Southwest is undergoing an executive shakeup.
On Wednesday, the Dallas-based company announced a new vice president of technology and chief information officer: Lauren Woods.
Woods will replace the airline’s former senior vice president and chief information officer, Kathleen Merrill, who stepped down in December, moving into an executive adviser position after almost two decades with the company.
“Lauren’s vast experience has prepared her well for this important role, as she’s built a stellar reputation for being an innovative and transformational leader in our technology department and throughout the company,” said Southwest CEO Bob Jordan.
“I first want to thank Kathleen for her many and immeasurable contributions to Southwest Airlines for nearly 19 years, overseeing some of the industry’s largest and most historic technology projects. We all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for the many positive ways Kathleen contributed to Southwest’s reputation as one of the most celebrated companies and we are grateful she will continue serving Southwest in her new role,” Jordan said about Merrill.
Woods will be tasked with executing Southwest’s ambitious plans to improve its technology. The company recently said it would commit $1.3 billion to upgrade its tech infrastructure in 2023.
Southwest is still in damage control mode as it works to fix tech problems that were uncovered when 16,700 of its flights were canceled around Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The company announced it lost $800 million due to the challenges it faced in December, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.
Southwest reported a $220 million loss in the fourth quarter at a time when its cross-town competitor, American Airlines, reported its first profit since 2019 and record fourth-quarter revenues.
The new chief information officer has worked at Southwest for 13 years and has been involved in integrating AirTran, a company Southwest acquired in 2011. Woods also introduced a new reservation system from Amadeus in 2017, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“She established cloud infrastructure, creating a new development and delivery platform for complex application ecosystems,” Southwest said of the newly promoted Woods, touting her tech credentials.