Southwest weighs schedule changes, apologizes to staff after complaints about a grueling summer

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 jet taxis to the gate after touchdown at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on April 6, 2021.

Kamil Krzaczynski | AFP | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines on Friday apologized to staff after their unions complained about grueling schedules this summer and stated it was weighing scheduling modifications for later this 12 months.

The provider added extra flights again to its schedule in contrast with a few of its opponents, an effort to capitalize on a surge in journey demand.

The enhance in bookings was a welcome change in contrast to “a year ago, but we have to be honest with ourselves: it’s also taken a toll on our operation and put a significant strain on all of you. And for that, I am sincerely sorry,” wrote COO Mike Van de Ven in a staff observe, which was seen by CNBC.

Staffing shortages have exacerbated issues like dangerous climate for some airways this summer, including to flight cancellations and delays. Southwest had a 64% on-time arrival fee between June 1 and August 18, decrease than American, Delta and United, in accordance to information from Cirium.

Van de Ven stated the provider is “continuing to evaluate our fourth quarter flight schedules, and we’re taking a serious look at flight levels to ensure that our flying aligns with the staffing needed to operate within this more complicated COVID environment.”

Southwest declined to remark additional, however TWU Local 556, which represents the provider’s flight attendants, late Friday informed members that the airline has reversed course on plans to add an extra 720 crew assignments to their schedules for September.

Southwest pilots’ union on Thursday stated it was considering pickets at U.S. airports over Thanksgiving and Christmas to protest tightly packed schedules, a lack of lodges and meals choices, and different points. Flight attendants this week raised related points.

“We will not be following our traditional staffing models as we reevaluate where we are in October, November, and December,” Van de Ven wrote. “You come first.

The airline stated earlier this week it was struggling to rent new staff and supplied bonuses value about $300 for employee referrals.

Southwest is “continuing to invest in a very aggressive hiring plan, even with a scaled-back schedule,” Van de Ven stated.

Earlier this month, the corporate cut its revenue forecast, blaming the fast-spreading Covid-19 delta variant for a decline in bookings and a rise in cancellations.

This week, Spirit Airlines stated it will trim a few of its schedules for the remainder of the third quarter after greater than 2,800 cancellations price the corporate some $50 million.

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