After a tough summer, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines plans to focus on quality over quantity. The airline announced that it is going to reduce its flight schedule through the end of the year. Southwest Airlines plans to run fewer flights to fix issues that recently affected their summer operations.
According to Southwest, it will reduce flights by an average of 27 flights per day from September 7 through October 6. And from October 7 to November 5, the airline is going to average a reduction of 162 flights per day.
November and December flight schedules are also going to be affected. The airline announced that it’s going to protect their holiday bookings. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said:
“We’re confident these adjustments will create a more reliable travel experience”.
Aside from recent flight reductions, the airline previously slashed its flight schedule because of fewer travelers due to Delta variant concerns.
Reduced Flights to Address Staffing Issues
Just like other US airlines, Southwest had a difficult time coping with the return of travel demand. Though Southwest attempted to capitalize on the opportunity to recover, the airline grappled with staffing shortages. To address the staffing shortage, Southwest asked employees who are on leave to return. The company expects to have its employees back by the end of the year.
Last week, Southwest announced an employee referral bonus worth $300 for employees who can help the company fill open positions. Southwest’s Vice President and Chief People Officer Julie Weber said
“Southwest is experiencing a sharp decline in qualified applicants due to low labor force participation and competition for available talent”.
Aside from staffing shortages, flight crews complained about the lack of available hotels while they are on duty. Both the pilot and the flight attendant unions already filed their grievances with the airlines.