Southwest to make enhancements to winter gear, staffing following vacation meltdown

Southwest Airlines pledged Tuesday to enhance its winter operations and modernize its know-how following an enormous vacation meltdown that spurred the cancellation of practically 17,000 flights and stranded scores of flyers.

Particularly, the Dallas-based service plans to buy extra de-icing vehicles, engine covers and heaters, in addition to rent extra winter employees.

Moreover, Southwest mentioned it could make investments extra in its know-how, budgeting $1.3 billion for upgrades, upkeep and different expenditures. The airline additionally pledged to improve crew scheduling methods and buyer telephone methods to deal with larger name volumes.

Winter Storm Elliott — which caused blisteringly chilly temperatures to comb components of the U.S. through the vacation journey season — created a cascade of issues for Southwest.

Whereas most airways swiftly recovered their operations following the storm, Southwest faced issues similar to outdated know-how and issues managing out-of-place crews that paved the best way for widespread flight cancellations.

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan mentioned at a JPMorgan traders convention Tuesday that the storm hindered Southwest’s operations in two of its key airports: Denver Worldwide Airport (DEN) and Chicago’s Halfway Worldwide Airport (MDW).

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“This in the end strained our potential to maintain up with the tempo and the breadth of the disruptions,” Jordan defined.

Southwest continues to be reeling from its December debacle. For its 2023 first-quarter earnings, the airline forecasts successful to income of as much as $350 million, based on the service’s newest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

That comes after the service reported a internet lack of $220 million for the final quarter of 2022, because the meltdown price Southwest $800 million in pretax revenue.

Congress can be investigating the meltdown. Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s govt vp and chief business officer, testified earlier than the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in February.

Regardless of the losses incurred by the vacation calamity, Jordan mentioned the service’s reserving tendencies for the second quarter “seem strong,” with demand for leisure journey now intently mirroring pre-pandemic ranges in 2019.

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