Americans Recovery Flight Plan
American Airlines CIO Monte Ford says technology will help steer American toward recovery.You couldnt blame him if Monte Ford seemed a bit shellshocked. Soon after leaving his CIO post at The Associates First Capital Corp. just over two years ago to take on a new position as senior vice president and CIO at American Airlines Inc., Ford was hit first with the companys $742 million acquisition of TWA Airlines LLC and the need to integrate the two carriers systems. Next followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks devastating blow to the airline industry. Now war has made that dire situation even worse, forcing American to slash costs and reportedly consider bankruptcy protection. Through it all, however, the 43-year-old Ford has remained a fierce advocate of IT and its potential to help turn the proud airline around. eWeek Executive Managing Editor Jeff Moad recently caught up with Ford in his Fort Worth, Texas, office to talk over his strategy. Many organizations are, like American, focused on cutting costs. Is the mission of the IT organization at American changing to simply a cost-cutting vehicle rather than a critical piece of the strategy?
At American, IT has become more strategic in the last two years to the success and reconstruction of this airline. ... We are doing things that lead the industry through the kinds of changes that it needs to go through to reconstruct itself. ... [Customer] self-sufficiency. Self-service kiosks. The ability to walk into an airport, swipe something, get a boarding pass, go through security and get on your plane. We provide that capability. ... The kinds of information that is provided to people behind the counter, at the check-in desk that services our customers, we provide that. Electronic ticketing. The ability to take an electronic ticket and transfer it across carriers. ... American led that. We said a year ago, by the end of March 2003, we were going to have an electronic ticket, and we were going to go ticketless for everything [in the United States]. And, by the end of this year, we want to be ... there for every carrier in the world that we do business with.