Southwest Airlines Undertakes $800M Modernization

The new reservation system will eliminate paper tickets for passengers, among many improvements.

Southwest Airlines

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines is embracing an $800 million modernization program, saying so long to paper tickets and pneumatic tubes at airports.

According to Fortune, Southwest has invested roughly $500 million into updating is reservation system — the biggest tech update in the company’s 45-year history. And, it has invested about $300 million in updates to airport ramps and other operations.

“How do I save a minute here, a minute there? In 2017, we are more deliberate in our continuous improvement efforts.”
Mike Van de Ven

“We’re looking for minutes,” Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven told Bloomberg. “How do I save a minute here, a minute there? In 2017, we are more deliberate in our continuous improvement efforts.”

The tech updates are beginning this year and will run through 2020, Bloomberg said. The company expects the upgrades to increase earnings by $100 million a year.

The new reservation system will eliminate paper tickets for passengers, making electronic tickets the only option, Fortune said.

The new system also will enable Southwest to accept foreign currency for the first time, as well as recover from storms more quickly. It will give Southwest more control over schedule and price changes, too.

Tarmac workers and mechanics also are included in the tech revolution at Southwest.

They will receive new tablets that will give them information in real time, which the airline hopes will hasten de-board and re-board passengers.

And those pneumatic tubes, a technology that dates to the 1830s? They were used to carry information about luggage to workers so they could calculate jet and weight balance. No more, though.

That information now will be sent electronically, Bloomberg said.

More reading on Southwest Airlines

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