Southwest Airlines keeps up with changing demand

Wally Devereaux, managing director of cargo and charters, Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has experienced strong growth helped by international expansion, and updating products on offer, says Wally Devereaux.

The managing director of cargo and charters tells Air Cargo Week that the airline has grown on international routes and is seeing healthy maturity in those markets. Product offerings has been updated to include new options for perishable shippers.

Devereaux says the airline is adjusting to what customers are shipping. He says: “Miniaturisation and digitalisation of many commodities has changed the air cargo landscape significantly over the years. If you look back to the early 2000s, we were carrying things like newspapers and unprocessed rolls of film. Today, we’re moving a lot of e-commerce related commodities ranging from retail electronics to clothing.”

Customers are benefitting from growth on international routes covering Mexico and the Caribbean. The routes cover Cabo San Lucas/Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun in Mexico, San Jose in Costa Rica, Montego Bay in Jamaica and Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

Devereaux says: “We’ve also been able to strengthen interline agreements with Hawaiian and WestJet to allow our cargo customers to reach more places, and are exploring additional interline partnerships to expand our reach.”

Customers want and expect greater levels of visibility and information, which is what Southwest Airlines is providing through its website and status updates.

Devereaux says: “This information will improve significantly next year as we launch plane side scanning capabilities of cargo in all US locations. Many customers also utilise GPS tracking solutions which adds an extra level of visibility beyond the point it enters our network.”

The website has been updated to make it easier to navigate, and customer feedback has been good. There are improved tracking features and it is mobile enabled.

Devereaux says: “The next part of this process will be the launch of a customer portal which will allow for a variety of self-service options for our customers. Plane side scanning of cargo is also an exciting enhancement on our technology roadmap coming next year.”

New products are also coming, with Devereaux saying: “We are focused on enhancing our product menu as evident by the recent launch of our redesigned perishables product, Fresh Fast, and we’ll continue our efforts to stand up new cargo service in existing Southwest Airlines international locations.”

Devereaux says the main driver of the US economy is consumer spending, and this creates opportunities for logistics companies.

There is also stiff competition with multiple carriers and modes available to shippers so companies must differentiate themselves in the marketplace.

He says: “Southwest does this through a unique point to point flight schedule that offers over 4,000 flights per day and an extremely high level of schedule redundancy. We typically offer multiple options to get shipments from point A to point B which helps to ensure shipments arrive on time.”

This is how Southwest differentiates itself, with Devereaux saying: “The point to point flight schedule is unique to Southwest Airlines and offers unparalleled capacity and redundancy to air cargo shippers in the US market.”