Southwest Airlines outlines how it’s trying to prevent another operational crisis

Executives detailed the company’s updated crisis management plan on a conference call after its latest quarterly earnings report.

Southwest canceled thousands of flights over the holiday season. (Photo credit: Getty Images).

DALLAS: Southwest Airlines has implemented technologies and enhancements, as well as bolstering operational staffing, to better prepare itself in case of future crises, according to CEO Bob Jordan. 

Jordan opened the airline’s Q4 and full-year financial results conference call on Thursday by apologizing again to customers and employees for the operational challenges that disrupted thousands of people’s travel plans during the holiday season. 

“We’re intensely focused on reducing the risk and repeating the type of operational event we had last month,” he said. “While I’m not proud of what happened, I’m very proud of our people and all that they have done to take care of our customers and their needs.”

Jordan detailed mitigation efforts the company has and is putting in place to curb crises from arising, some of which he has mentioned in recent weeks during exclusive interviews with national media outlets. 

Southwest has created an “early indicator dashboard,” which monitors operational health and signals an alert if the company approaches predefined operational thresholds. 

It also has established “supplemental operational staffing” that can mobilize to alleviate challenges that may arise at the first sign of workload backlog, and has enhanced existing communications tools used by staffers on crew scheduling. 

“While these short-term risk mitigation steps are in place, we’re taking additional steps to review the event and determine any additional changes to our plans,” Jordan added. 

Southwest’s board of directors has set up an operations review committee that is working closely with management and helping oversee the company’s response. 

The airline also recently brought on management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Oliver Wyman’s report, based on interviews with staffers and union members, should be finalized in the coming weeks, Jordan said, revealing exactly what sparked the holiday meltdown. 

Southwest, which canceled about 16,700 flights between December 21 and the end of the year, reported a $220 million loss in Q4. CFO Tammy Romo said the airline anticipates another net loss in Q1 2023.

This month, the beleaguered airline named Whitney Eichinger as SVP of culture and communications

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in