Southwest Airlines CEO Urges Employees to Stand Strong and Press On During Troublesome Days

Given the events of recent days, Southwest Airlines officials might very well “wanna get away,” as the company’s advertising slogan goes.

Computer glitches, as well as mechanical issues and weather, led to myriad delays and resulted in a not-so-pleasant two weeks for the Dallas-based airline.

Those headaches led CEO Gary Kelly to issue a letter to “All Southwest Warriors,” asking employees to stand strong and press on.

“We suddenly find ourselves in a period of tension and turmoil surrounding out-of-service aircraft for maintenance and AMFA contract negotiations,” Kelly wrote in his letter. “Over the past two weeks, this has created a hardship for many of our Operational Employees and Customers.”

The airline is embroiled in a dispute with its mechanics union, which some Southwest officials blamed for hundreds of canceled flights this week. Most of the 440 cancellations were attributed to bad weather, but the airline also reported a higher-than-average numbers of out-of-service planes.

Mechanical issues were reported at multiple airports in “unprecedented” numbers beginning Feb. 12, just days after a negotiating session with the mechanics union, according to Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven. The union, which represents nearly 2,400 Southwest mechanics, has been in contract talks for more than six years.

In his letter to employees, Kelly praised his company’s mechanics and said they deserve a new labor contract, even though a contract offer voted down last year “had the best, highest pay rate in the commercial airline industry, with minor work rule changes,” Kelly said.

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SOURCE: Dallas Morning News, Loyd Brumfield