The US airline has selected Leonardo’s technology for the transfer bags terminal at one of the world’s busiest hubs

Southwest Airlines has chosen Leonardo’s sorter technology to reshape the transfer bags facility at Denver International Airport (DEN). The move aims to guarantee faster connection times, accommodate tight flight schedules, and enhance capacity to handle future passenger volume growth effectively. Denver is one of the busiest airline hubs in the world's largest aviation market, with over 69 million passengers travelling through it in 2022.

The contract, worth over €25m, will provide a solution designed in response to Southwest's specific requirements, to remove the root cause of inefficiencies experienced due to labour intensive, manual sortation, tail-to-tail transfer bag approach.

One of the key highlights of the project is the introduction Leonardo's cross-belt sorter (MBH – Multisorting Baggage Handling System). According to the company, it offers numerous advantages over traditional systems, including enhanced accuracy, increased sorting speed, and improved scalability. This will enable Southwest to benefit from significant improvements in operational efficiency, automatic precise sortation of transfer bags, reduced operator workload, and elimination of existing pain points. 

“Southwest handles far more bags than anyone else in the industry and it’s not even close,” said Andrew Watterson, chief operations officer at Southwest Airlines. “This new system at Denver Airport helps to modernise our largest operation and provides key efficiencies to our people and customers.”

Leonardo’s solution will consist of one MBHS cross-belt sorter with three induction lines for a total length of about 500m/1,640ft to serve 94 destinations. There will also be two conveyor-based bags buffers. The system features additional technological innovations including advanced IT systems for management, flow management software for intelligent routing and a diagnostic system.

“The decision by Southwest to trust their largest and most complex baggage operation in the USA to Leonardo really demonstrates the transformative nature of our baggage technology,” said Massimiliano Veltroni, managing director of the company’s Automation Business Unit. “The application of the MBHS for Southwest at Denver will be game-changing and I look forward to seeing the system live with real Southwest bags in the near future.” 

The MBHS has several advantages over traditional systems
The MBHS has several advantages over traditional systems Leonardo