Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, said the company is working to fix its technology issues.
The southwest airlines is an airline that has experienced a lot of technology issues recently. Their CEO addressed the issue in a recent interview.
Is it technology, or a lack thereof, that is causing Southwest Airlines’ huge cancellations and flight delays?
This weekend, Southwest had hundreds of flights delayed or canceled for the second time in less than four months — one lady claimed that her trip from San Jose, Calif. to Las Vegas was canceled six times, forcing her to purchase a Delta ticket to return home.
It occurred in June as a consequence of a “systems problem” that affected over 2,000 flights, according to Southwest.
It occurred from Friday, October 8 to Monday, October 11, with the airline citing “weather difficulties and other external limitations” as the cause.
In reality, the Dallas-based carrier claimed “intermittent technical problems” when its website, mobile app, and call centers failed on October 11, 2015, nearly six years ago to the day.
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While other airlines have had problems, it seems that Southwest is the most often affected. Southwest CEO Gary Kelly appeared on CNBC’s ‘Squawk on the Street’ program today and said the recent issues were not due to a lack of staffing because the airline had adjusted its fall schedule accordingly, or a lack of technology spending, or that the airline’s pilots union – which had just filed a lawsuit to block a proposed employee COVID-19 vaccination mandate – had staged a’sick-out’ in conjunction with the lawsuit.
However, technology seems to be the common thread here, with Casey Murray, head of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, telling The Associated Press that Southwest’s operation has become “brittle” and “cracks at the least strain.”
Kelly told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that the technical problems in June were due to human mistake, not a lack of technological capacity. In one instance, Kelly said, employees failed to follow procedures. Kelly said that “those who understand airlines” are aware of what occurred over the weekend.
“I believe people realize that when you fall behind on an airline, it only takes a few days to make up, and the fact that we’re essentially caught up (Monday) and today validates the argument that we’re making here,” Kelly said. “However, we were considerably behind on Friday, and it only took a few days for us to make up.”
Southwest, unlike United, American, or Delta, runs a linear network rather than a hub-and-spoke system, according to Kelly. That is, it moves from point to point without following a predetermined path.
The airline was struck by a domino effect as weather delays in Florida coupled with air traffic control problems over the weekend.
“Approximately half of our aircraft go through Florida. We’re one of the country’s biggest airlines. As a result, towards the end of the day, we had a large number of aircraft and flight crews who were completely out of position,” he said. “It’s a one-of-a-kind situation.” Southwest has nothing to do with it. That was us during the June outage, if you recall. That was a technological outage, which happens seldom. However, it’s been a difficult summer, and I’m not making any excuses. Southwest Airlines didn’t provide their best to our consumers, and that’s not what we desire.”
However, Murray, the head of the pilots’ union, claims that the airline utilizes outdated crew-scheduling technology, which causes cascading delays when flights are canceled in one section of the network.
Southwest has “excellent technology,” according to Kelly, and has implemented new systems for reservations, maintenance, and record-keeping software. The airline is now recruiting 5,000 people in order to provide “greater cushion in the business so we can better absorb the sort of hit that we experienced last Friday.”
Kelly did concede, though, that the technology might be better.
“In this situation, having better tools to recuperate would be beneficial,” he added. “As a result, when we experience a setback like we had on Friday, there aren’t ideal optimization tools to re-flow aircraft.” Second, there is technology that is needed to rearrange our flight crews. We have flight attendants, pilots, and aircraft, and it’s simply tough to bring everything back together once it gets behind. I believe there is an opportunity to enhance that process. It’s referred to as “repair.” It’s difficult, but there are certainly some promising prospects for the future.”
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