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Former Southwest Airlines senior manager joins Row 44

February 1, 2011 | 12:35 pm

Row44

Westlake Village-based Row 44 Inc., an in-flight broadband Internet provider for airlines, said that it has brought aboard longtime Southwest Airlines senior manager Doug Murri as a technology director to work with carriers.

Murri will be working with airlines on the logistics of outfitting Row 44’s Wi-Fi technology on commercial jets. It was a role that he played with Southwest and its decision to wire its fleet of more than 540 planes with Row 44’s in-flight broadband system.

Murri was not a decision-maker in that process, rather he helped integrate the technology on the planes, Southwest said.

"As I worked with the Row 44 team from within Southwest on the passenger Wi-Fi initiative, I became convinced that this company’s in-flight broadband platform is the most innovative and robust on the market," Murri said in a statement. "I am eager to help push Row 44’s technology into new uses for our airline customers around the world."

Row 44 hopes Murri can build on business connections that he made during his 16-year tenure designing, leading and implementing several key technology initiatives at Southwest.

One of those intiatitives, called the onboard performance computer, provided the company more accurate readings on aircraft performance. Southwest said the technology was "analogous to the transition from long-hand multiplication and division to a calculator."

Row 44, named after the last row on a DC-10 commercial jet, uses a network of telecommunications satellites belonging to Hughes Network Systems. By tapping into Hughes' network, Row 44 has the potential to provide worldwide Internet access.

The company has grown to about 40 people spread across offices in Westlake Village, Las Vegas and Lombard, Ill.

Row 44 made another key hire last year when former Vegas.com Chief Executive Howard Lefkowitz joined the company as chief commercial officer.

Last year, Row 44 landed the contract with Southwest. The company said it has already finished work on about 60 jetliners and plans to have the full fleet wired by 2012.

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In-flight Internet provider Row 44 raises $37 million for international expansion

-- W.J. Hennigan

Photo: Row 44 Chief Executive John Guidon, left, and President Gregg Fialcowitz on the wings of the company's 1950 Grumman Albatross Seaplane that it uses for equipment testing. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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