Southwest names new tech chief



Southwest Airlines Co. named a new executive to oversee technology investments and data platforms, just over a month after the carrier suffered from an operational meltdown that forced it to cancel more than 16,700 flights.
Lauren Woods, who has been with the company since 2010, was named chief information officer and senior vice president of technology, taking over for Kathleen Merrill, according to a statement. Merrill had decided in September to shift to an executive adviser role early this year, Southwest said.
While the change was in progress prior to the carrier’s recent issues, it puts a new leader in charge of $1.3 billion in technology investments and upgrades planned for 2023.
Southwest has come under scrutiny from US regulators, lawmakers and passengers over the late-December breakdown, which has been attributed in part to outdated systems.
The cancellations mounted after a winter storm that snarled flights and left crews and planes scattered across 50 airports overwhelmed the airline’s scheduling system, forcing it to cancel most flights to reset its network. The airline expects lost revenue and costs for reimbursements to exceed $1 billion.
Woods will focus in part on transformation of Southwest’s enterprise data platforms that drive the company’s data science, analytics, optimization and system integrations, the carrier said.

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