June 17, 2024

Southwest Airlines Co. plans to launch a new tool aimed at making its easier for companies to manage business travel, an area the carrier’s executives have identified as a key to future growth.
The Dallas-based carrier announced Monday it has created an online portal called “Southwest Business Assist,” which will serve as a one-stop shop for corporate travel buyers and travel management companies. The website, slated to go live on Aug. 24, provides businesses with dashboards, reports, and automated processing of contractual benefits which makes it easier to receive or request customer service.
“The on-demand self-service tool will provide easy access to real-time information, reporting and benefits designed to improve efficiencies and communication for our business travel partners and continues our journey of making it easy to manage business travel on Southwest,” Dave Harvey, vice president of Southwest Business, said in a statement.
Additional features yet to come as Southwest (NYSE: LUV) builds out the platform will include duty-of-care reporting, the ability for travel managers to manage eligible flight credits and more automated functionality.
“The whole point is to allow you to handle things yourself without having to call Southwest Airlines, without having to take 10 steps to do what two would do,” CEO Bob Jordan said during the Global Business Travel Association’s annual convention in San Diego.
Southwest has put more of a focus on business-to-business services in recent years. The company launched its Southwest Business unit in 2019 and joined industry peers by inking deals with Sabre, Travelport and Amadeus to make corporate bookings possible via global distribution systems.
Last year, Southwest introduced a version of its popular Rapid Rewards program geared toward business which gives participating companies and their travelers the ability to earn rewards points.
Harvey and other executives at Southwest have pointed to business travel as a driver for the airline’s continued recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic in the second half of the year and onward. Southwest reported record revenue in the second quarter and saw its profit more than double. However, leisure travel has mostly driven the resurgence while business travel demand has continued to lag.
Executives said they have seen signs of improvements. Managed business revenues improved from down 36% in March to down 19% in June, Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Watterson said during a July 28 earnings conference call. Overall, managed business revenue was down 24% in the second quarter, compared to the same period in 2019.
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