After Suspending 16,700 Flights Caused by a Holiday Disaster, Southwest Gives Its Pilots Millions in Compensation

After Suspending 16,700 Flights Caused by a Holiday Disaster, Southwest Gives Its Pilots Millions in Compensation

News 2023-02-20

Following the company's awful holiday season, during which 16,700 flights were canceled, Southwest Airlines is attempting to contain the damage internally. Due to the delays, which rendered many staff members as helpless as stranded passengers, the Dallas-based carrier has promised millions in incentive pay to its personnel.

Southwest gave the union representing airline pilots nearly $45 million, or about $4,500 per pilot. Additionally, bonuses for holidays and airline changes have already been given out. The Dallas Morning News claims that "many [other] operational workgroups" were also given bonuses in response to the issues, though it didn't specify which ones.

Staff members who worked shifts between December 20th and January 3rd will receive financial rewards.

Starting on December 22nd, when a winter storm hit Chicago and Denver, two of the airline's main hubs, Southwest had an operational breakdown. Because of this, the airline's flight rescheduling software couldn't keep pace with the changes and finally lost track of dozens of workers, leaving planes without pilots and flight attendant crews – leaving workers stranded alongside angry passengers.

CEO Bob Jordan made excuses to both parties numerous times, stated that it won't happen again, hired a consultant to look into the issue, and ensured the software is fixed.

The substantial rewards to employees come as pilot anger over protracted contract discussions is escalating. Southwest and its pilots' union have been negotiating a new contract for the past three years. Additionally, a strike authorization vote was requested by the president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association last week, and it will take place starting on May 1st. At the conclusion of the month, the votes will be tallied.

Pilots won't be able to quit their jobs anytime soon, even if they vote to leave. It's simply the first of several steps that must be taken before a work stoppage may start in accordance with a federal regulation that controls airline/labor relations.

On Tuesday, January 24th, the airline and its pilots will resume their mediation process.

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