Swinerton’s Southwest Journey

When Swinerton’s National Aviation Network was created several years ago, the mission of the group was to connect our aviation construction experts across the country to share knowledge and resources and better serve our aviation clients where they operate. Over the last two years, our relationship with Southwest Airlines has become a textbook example of this vision in action.

In March of 2019, after laying a strong foundation over several years at Denver International Airport (DEN) through the successful execution of on-call construction services, the local team helped secure our largest project with Southwest, the $90 million RON Maintenance Hangar. This was a tremendous win not just for the Colorado division, but for Swinerton Aviation as a whole. Over the next year, our aviation group was able to gain a deeper understanding of Southwest’s company culture and processes as well as develop solid relationships with key personnel up and down the org chart.

The beginning of 2020 had Southwest firmly positioned as a strategic national client for Swinerton Aviation. Unfortunately, the COVID pandemic hit, and the entire aviation industry ground to a halt. In face of this unprecedented uncertainty, Southwest suspended construction on all capital projects across the entire country except for one, the Maintenance Hangar at DEN. With the hangar project a year into construction, Swinerton worked with the airline’s Corporate Facilities team to provide budget management solutions to keep the project alive during the pandemic.

“Working with Swinerton on our Denver hangar project, we’ve been really pleased with their project management skills, including working hand-in-hand with us to optimize the project to conserve capital spending to help us get through the COVID-19 pandemic impact on our overall business.”

Dan Landson, Communication Lead at Southwest Airlines

However, Southwest still had to battle back from having their main revenue source crippled. Near non-existent travel demand in their existing markets had left the airline with a supply of people and planes that were grounded. By the end of the year, Southwest had assessed alternative revenue sources and saw the opportunity to open entirely new revenue streams and deploy their unused assets by opening new origin markets and leisure destinations to access an untapped source of customers. From December 2020 into the fall of 2021, Swinerton solidified our partnership with Southwest, building out operations at five airports in their expanded network as well as managing projects at eight other existing service locations.

The teams executing this work have gone above and beyond the call of duty on a daily basis, consistently receiving praise from Southwest Corporate Facilities staff all over the map. Demonstrating the values that both Swinerton and Southwest share, our project staff has set the bar by serving the airline beyond the standard scope of work. Some examples include:

  • Project Executive Mark Capriotti and his team mobilized and began construction on Terminal 2 T-Point Expansion project at Oakland International Airport (OAK) one day before the COVID lock-down was initiated in March 2020. Instead of waiting idly while the aviation industry and entire country were stopped in its tracks, this team worked closely with Southwest to establish a new completion budget that adjusted the scope to best execute the work. Once progress restarted in August, the team was able to hit the ground running and complete the building component of the project within the established budget. The baggage handling scope is currently underway.
  • During the ATO and Gate improvement work at Palm Springs Airport, Southwest asked our team to find a solution to help ramp employees run paperwork from the ramp to the planes more efficiently. After exploring different options, Project Engineer Garrett Geane came up with the solution to use a pneumatic tube, metal framing, and some 4” conduit purchased at Home Depot to allow ramp employees to pass important paperwork to flight staff without having to run up and down the stairs of the passenger boarding bridge. Southwest prides itself on turning flights quickly, and this solution helped them achieve that during construction.
  •  Introduced the airline to a national program being developed to execute small, fast-tracked projects for clients across the country—now called Swinerton Facility Solutions. This program deploys nimble and creative construction teams to execute our clients’ unique program needs through a streamlined process. We were able to negotiate work with the airline and build out space for them to service new markets in Palm Springs and Santa Barbra, CA; Montrose, CO; Eugene, OR; and Bellingham, WA.

“Everyone here on the Southwest team can’t say enough about Swinerton’s work ethic and attention to detail. I asked them to go in many different directions at the same time and they did it with a smile…I think; it’s hard to tell with a mask on.”

Andrew Collaro; Project Manager, Corporate Facilities at Southwest Airlines  [Bellingham International Airport (BLI) Southwest Station Build-out]

Swinerton’s National Aviation Network continues to provide Southwest with comprehensive preconstruction, design management, and construction services at airports in their service network, having partnered with the airline on nearly 20 projects, including self-perform work, at 12 airports across the country to date.

“Your partnership has been a great experience with a truly dedicated team driven by the best in this industry. My hat goes off to you and everyone at Swinerton for delivering a quality product that we can enjoy for many years.”

Mike Dias, Regional Manager, Corporate Facilities at Southwest Airlines

San Diego International Airport (SAN) New Gate Utility Building