March 26, 2023

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Southwest lost $220 million due to the Holiday Meltdown

Bad weather across the country in the days leading up to Christmas forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights. But as conditions improved, Southwest struggled to return to normal operations.

Finally, the airline Thousands of flights canceled To reset her network, she strands the customers and forces them to make other plans. All told, the airline canceled 16,700 flights, more than a third of its schedule, from December 21 to December 31.

Airline unions blamed management’s failure to update crew scheduling systems and software. Southwest said it spent about $1 billion a year on the technology and that its systems were working as designed but was overwhelmed by the number of last-minute changes that had to be made quickly because crews were far from where they needed to be.

You are trying to solve these problems. And as you solve it, you have more problems, Mr. Jourdain he told the New York Times this month. “More cancellations, more problems; more cancellations, more problems. We just couldn’t keep up with the volume — volume we hadn’t seen before.”

While the airline said its technology worked as intended, it acknowledged that its automated software could not help reassigning crews from canceled flights who were no longer where they were expected to be. As a result, Southwest had to manually adjust crew schedules. The company has asked the software maker, GE Digital, to tweak that system and said Thursday that an update is still weeks away.

The airline said it has taken several other steps to prevent a similar meltdown, including closely monitoring potential problems, increasing staffing and upgrading the tools used to schedule and communicate with crews. Southwest also hired consulting firm Oliver Wyman to investigate what went wrong.

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“Immediately after the outage, we moved quickly to put mitigation efforts in place to reduce the risk of future operational disruptions and help enhance our operational resilience,” Mr. Jordan said Thursday.