The U.S. government criticised Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) on Tuesday after the low-cost carrier cancelled thousands of aircraft and its CEO, Bob Jordan, said the company needed to improve its legacy aviation systems.
Prior to the Christmas break weekend, a powerful winter storm forced American airlines to postpone thousands of flights, but Southwest’s problems have gotten worse while other carriers have fully recovered.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg criticised the cancellations for causing what he called a “meltdown.”
He told CNN that the union representatives for the business had informed him that they’d been raising concerns about Southwest Systems’ technological problems for some time.
In a video message, Jordan expressed his regret to the company’s patrons and staff and stated that it was obvious that more work needed to be done to advance the existing plans for system upgrades for such dire situations so that no one would ever experience what is happening right now again.
The Dallas-based airline has cancelled more than 12,000 flights since Friday, drastically altering a regularly aggressive schedule that connects large portions of the nation.
According to tracking website FlightAware, it cancelled upwards of two-thirds of its 4,000 booked flights on Tuesday, making up more than 90% of all airline cancellations in the United States.
For the next few days, the airline stated that it would run about one-third of daily flights.
Jordan believed the club has high hopes of getting back on track within the next week.
Buttigieg claimed this has blatantly crossed the line from a weather-related issue to one that directly falls under the airline’s purview.
Buttigieg, who claimed to have communicated with Jordan, said he held the airline accountable for ensuring that this did not occur again and that it provided refunds, meals, and hotel accommodations for individuals who got stuck.
At Chicago Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on December 27, 2022, passengers of Southwest Airlines queue up to check in their suitcases from their nixed flights after an arctic blast and a significant winter storm known as Elliott swept over much of the country prior to the Christmas holiday weekend.
On routes wherein Southwest Airlines was having trouble getting passengers home, he tweeted that numerous airlines had consented to set price caps. American Airlines (AAL.O) stated in a tweet that certain cities would have fare caps.
Southwest informed that it will compensate clients for travel-related expenses and that, as of early Tuesday, it had already handled thousands of requests.
In a tweet from his official POTUS account, U.S. President Joe Biden stated that his administration was trying to guarantee that airlines were held responsible.
Colin Allred, a Democratic representative, blasted Southwest for having a catastrophic flight schedule meltdown. Southwest’s issues go beyond weather, according to Maria Cantwell, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The committee will investigate the origins and effects of these interruptions.
Shares of Southwest finished at a two-month low, down 6%.
Southwest operates a point-to-point service rather than using big hubs because domestic travel accounts for the majority of company profitability. As a result, employees are more likely to become stranded during interruptions, and the weather has caused turmoil in Southwest’s workforce.
Casey Murray, the president of the renowned Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, claimed Southwest is employing antiquated technology and procedures that are truly from the 1990s and can’t keep up with the current network complexity.
Although Southwest’s flight routing model was more sophisticated than others, according to Murray, it could still be handled by decent software because it had been designed internally.
The crew schedulers needed to manually link planes with employees, which was “extraordinarily difficult,” Southwest said, adding that the aircraft were available but that the system at the time couldn’t handle the process of matching those staff members with the aircraft.