< PrevNext > David Harvey, Southwest Airlines VP of Southwest Business Distribution Dealer By Michael B. Baker / December 10, 2020 / Contact Reporter Share Southwest's agreements with Travelport and Amadeus to provide content and full distribution capabilities earned David Harvey, VP of the carrier's Southwest Business unit, a slot on this list last year. He returns as Southwest not only followed through amid the Covid-19 pandemic but also ended a long-standing agreement with Sabre.Like all airlines, Southwest faced tough choices in terms of investment priorities this year as demand evaporated in the early days of the pandemic. Cutting the global distribution strategy, however, "one of the biggest technology strategy projects of the year," was not an option, Harvey said. "We made a commitment, so we got the teams focused and got this over the goal line. It would have been easy to say we were going to slow down, but actually, we decided to speed it up."Southwest's content went live on Travelport's Apollo and Worldspan GDSs on May 1, ahead of its planned launch late in the second quarter, Harvey said. Travelport's Galileo GDS followed on July 1, and Southwest went live on Amadeus on Oct. 1. Prior to May 1, less than 40 percent of Southwest's content was available in the GDS. That had grown to 90 percent by mid-November and would be at 100 percent within weeks, Harvey said. Even with smaller corporate travel volumes amid the pandemic, Southwest has seen "a lot of incremental net new business" via the GDS connections, he said.Southwest had been in discussions with Sabre for enhanced GDS participation as well, but the carrier in January announced those had ended without an agreement. In July, the carrier said it would end the bare-bones "basic booking request" model through which it had worked with Sabre for decades. The model had become an area of friction in terms of workflow for customers and the legacy technology it used, Harvey said.While Southwest had hundreds of customers who were using that Sabre solution, the carrier "has put the finishing touches" with nearly all of them, ensuring that there would be no disruption when it officially ends at the close of 2020. In the meantime, the door remains ajar for a future content deal with Sabre, Harvey said."There's not a path forward in the short term as we get into 2021," he said. "Once we start to understand what recovery looks like and see how the marketplace responds, I think we ultimately want to provide an industry-standard solution with Sabre."