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The COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing if not a grueling test for the airline industry, but Southwest is using the lessons it’s learned as a springboard for ongoing growth.

COVID-19 may have battered the travel industry to an unprecedented degree, but for technology leaders at Southwest Airlines, the experience has also taught some valuable lessons. Today, the airline is using that insight to chart a new course for the future.

“We have learned a lot about our existing system capabilities,” says Jeff Jones, vice president of commercial and customer technology with the airline. For example, “in the early days of the pandemic, the number of schedule revisions was astronomical—no one ever anticipated volumes like that. We saw some areas we needed to reinforce, and we made a lot of improvements.”

Business plummeted as the pandemic took hold, recounts Jim Dayton, vice president of air and ground operations technology. “We went from 4,000 flights a day to fewer than 1,500; those we did run were close to empty,” Dayton says. Yet even as the airline cut external IT support by 40% and reduced its technology budget by about 50%, it still delivered on 75% to 80% of its 2020 goals. “We have learned a lot about efficiencies, resilience, team sizes, and teamwork.”

Excerpt from WSJ

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