Southwest Airlines’ plan to staff and improve technology after the holiday chaos

Travelers check in at a Southwest Airlines ticket booth during the busy Christmas holiday season at Orlando International Airport December 28, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.

Paul Hennessy | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Southwest AirlinesThe CEO said the company will increase staffing and equipment over the winter to avoid a repeat of mass cancellations over the year-end holiday, which cost the company millions of dollars and stranded tens of thousands of travelers.

In a filing before an investor conference, Southwest said that remains the case expect a loss in the first quarter after a revenue slump of up to $350 million as a result of last year’s holiday chaos, when more than 16,000 flights were canceled in the last 10 days of 2022, drawing criticism from Washington.

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Southwest expects unit costs excluding fuel to rise up to 6.5% year over year this quarter, ahead of January’s forecast of no more than 4%.

The company will buy more equipment to de-ice planes and increase staffing levels. Bitter temperatures during Winter Storm Elliott limited the time crews could spend outdoors, Southwest said.

The airline will also upgrade technology to better predict how long deicing might take and has upgraded one of its planning platforms for better staff flights if things go wrong.

“We understand the root causes that led to the holiday disruptions and we validate our internal review with third-party assessment. Now we expect to mitigate the risk that an event of this magnitude ever occurs again,” CEO Bob Jordan said in a press release. “Work is underway to implement action items to prepare for next winter – some items have already been completed.” Southwest Airlines’ plan to staff and improve technology after the holiday chaos

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