Southwest could tweak product to cater to business passengers

Washington DC
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Southwest Airlines is keeping an open mind towards tweaking its product offering to cater to business travellers, as it prepares to become one of the biggest carriers at Washington National airport.

The Dallas-based carrier won 27 slot pairs at the airport that were divested by American Airlines, and will add seven new routes from Washington National with the slots starting from August.

Southwest anticipates offering 44 daily flights to 14 destinations by end-2014 from Washington National, an airport known for its popularity with business travellers due to its proximity to downtown Washington DC.

The airline's chief financial officer Tammy Romo says the airline wants to make sure that it continues meeting the needs of its customers, and this could include a relook of the airline's seating procedures.

Southwest does not have assigned seating for flights, but offers priority boarding to passengers at a fee.

"We will have a lot more capabilities with our new reservations system," says Romo, speaking today at the Deutsche Bank Global Industrials and Basic Materials conference.

Southwest announced last month that it had chosen Amadeus' Altea platform to supply a new domestic reservations system. The carrier is using Sabre to sell its domestic flights while subsidiary AirTran Airways utilises Navitaire New Skies.

Southwest is already using Amadeus' Altea platform to sell AirTran's international flights, which Southwest will operate with its own metal from 1 July. The carrier will continue using two reservations systems to sell its domestic flights until the AirTran brand is phased out by end-2014.