No LUV for the predicament now | LUV Message Board Posts

Southwest Airlines Co.

  LUV website

LUV   /  Message Board  /  Read Message



Rec'd By
Authored By
Minimum Recs
Previous Message  Next Message    Post Message    Post a Reply return to message boardtop of board
Msg  806 of 809  at  12/31/2022 2:14:48 AM  by


No LUV for the predicament now

5:56 pm ET December 30, 2022 (Dow Jones)

By Alison Sider and Dawn Gilbertson

Southwest Airlines Co. worked to return to normal operations Friday, more than a week after the start of an unprecedented meltdown that stranded passengers and drew fire from regulators.

The Dallas-based carrier's leap from operating 1,600 flights Thursday to roughly 4,000 on Friday more than doubled the size of its operation overnight. The expanded schedule represented a major test of how well Southwest has managed to put itself back together following a winter storm and subsequent operational problems that led it to cancel nearly 16,000 flights.

Executives said Thursday that they believe the airline is up to the task.

"We're prepared and we're ready to do that with minimal disruption," Chief Executive Bob Jordan said during a call with reporters. Earlier in the day he told employees: "I'm confident, but I'm also cautious."

As of 5 p.m. ET, Southwest had canceled 43 flights on Friday, far below the roughly 2,500 flights the carrier canceled over several days earlier this week. The vast majority of those had been cut earlier in the week. Overall, about 150 flights across airlines flying to, from or within the U.S. had been canceled Friday, according to FlightAware.

The relatively smooth day capped a tumultuous week for Southwest, during which its stumbles angered customers, employees and lawmakers.

A winter storm that blasted much of the country with extreme cold, snow, wind and ice ahead of Christmas disrupted many airlines' flights for several days. As rival carriers rebounded, Southwest's operations continued to deteriorate, and the airline this week deeply slashed its schedule for three days in a bid to stabilize its operation and get planes and crews into the right places.

Executives said Thursday that they thought the airline was ready to resume its full flying schedule. "I'm confident, but I'm also cautious," Chief Executive Bob Jordan told employees in a memo.

In Phoenix, where Southwest has a big presence, the security checkpoint wait for the airline's gates was already 10 minutes and growing at just after 4 a.m. local time. Earlier in the week, lines had been nonexistent as Southwest slashed flights to get back on track.

On Southwest flight 3579, which departed at just after 5:00 a.m. for Denver with fewer than half of its seats filled, the lead flight attendant told passengers more than once that the airline was grateful to have them on board.

"Obviously today more than ever, thank you," he said. "We're back."

Southwest executives have attributed the airline's struggles to the breadth and severity of the storm, which affected dozens of cities where Southwest flies including Denver and Chicago, where many of the airline's crews are based.

With so many people and planes out of position last weekend, executives have said the scheduling system Southwest uses to reconstruct crew schedules after storms and other events became overwhelmed by the volume of changes required. That left airline staff to try to manually match up available crew and planes, in what executives and union officials have said was an inefficient and laborious process.

As it works to maintain normal operations, Southwest faces heightened scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers who have said they are closely monitoring the airline's response to the crisis. Southwest has said it would reimburse affected travelers, but has shared few details.

"We are going to be putting Southwest Airlines under a microscope in terms of their delivering these kinds of reimbursements and refunds to passengers," said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, speaking to NBC News.

Southwest Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson acknowledged the high stakes, telling staff in a memo late Thursday that Friday would be "pivotal," especially heading into another holiday weekend.

"We started today fragile, so I hope that holds together. But we'll see, " Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association union, said Friday.

Kelsie and Chris Pearson said they were thrilled to be heading home Friday morning on Southwest Flight 4454 from Denver to San Diego. They said they spent an extra week in Minnesota due to two Southwest flight cancellations, one on Christmas Eve and another the day after Christmas.

"I had a nightmare this morning before we woke up that our flight was canceled," Kelsie Pearson said. Chris Pearson said he took up a new hobby during the ordeal: checking planes on FlightAware, a flight-tracking site, so they could handicap their chances of getting out.

Temperatures are likely to be warmer this weekend versus the arctic blast that swept the country last weekend, a forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Prediction Center said. Rainfall could move from west to east, with the possibility of more severe weather in the south early next week.

While the airline has said it was already working to upgrade some of its technology and could accelerate some of those investments, executives have said last week's storm was unique. They've said Southwest's systems can manage through more typical disruptions.

Southwest shares declined 6.71% this week, the stock's worst week since the week ended Sept. 23, 2022.

Southwest shares were 0.4% lower in afternoon trading, while major U.S. stock indexes declined about 1%.

As Southwest ramped back up Friday, it continued to grapple with the hit to its reputation among customers and some employees. Southwest frequently touts its customer-service scores and awards, and in the annual J.D. Power North American Airline Satisfaction Study this year, the airline ranked highest in customer satisfaction in the economy/basic economy category.

"We pride ourselves on having a high level of customer service and doing the right thing for customers, and obviously we have fallen short here in this regard," Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Ryan Green said Thursday.

Southwest executives have said that it could take weeks to process payments for customers looking to be reimbursed for expenses such as hotel rooms and rental cars. The airline hasn't tallied the total cost, but Mr. Jordan has said the financial impact from the meltdown likely would be significant.

Southwest also has pledged to reimburse affected travelers, but has shared few details. Executives said Thursday that it could take a number of weeks to process payments for customers looking to be reimbursed for expenses such as hotel rooms and rental cars.

The airline hasn't yet tallied the total cost, but Mr. Jordan has said the financial impact from the meltdown will likely be significant.

Erika Cada booked her Friday flight from Phoenix to Omaha months ago. Ms. Cada, who said she and two of her children flew on a Southwest flight to Phoenix on Christmas morning with no issues, said she debated rebooking to a later date given all the cancellations this week, but stuck with Friday.

"We waited and today is the day they decided to get back on track," she said.

Corrections & Amplifications

Southwest Airlines earlier this week canceled 39 flights scheduled for Friday and planned to operate roughly 4,000 flights on Friday. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said Southwest made the cancellations Thursday and planned to operate roughly 4,100 flights on Friday. And a Southwest passenger, Erika Cada, was traveling Friday with her children. An earlier version incorrectly said she was traveling with her grandchildren. (Corrected on Dec. 30)

     e-mail to a friend      printer-friendly     add to library      
Recs: 0  
   Views: 0 []
Previous Message  Next Message    Post Message    Post a Reply return to message boardtop of board

Financial Market Data provided by