Southwest CEO Shares an Update on the Airline's Recovery

Southwest Airlines CEO Issues Apology as DOT Demands Accountability

Southwest Airlines’ CEO Bob Jordan issued a formal apology and provided an update into the airline’s winter weather debacle on Tuesday as it continues operating at one-third of its schedule but now the U.S. Department of Transportation is demanding accountability for the thousands of travelers impacted by the flight cancellations.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg spoke with NBC News’ Tom Llamas on Tuesday’s airing of NBC Nightly News, saying the airline will be held accountable for the issue, which goes beyond winter weather: “At a minimum there needs to be cash refunds for the canceled flights, and they need to be taking care of passengers where they got stuck with meals, hotel compensation.”

“You’ve got passengers who are stranded,” he continued, “You got passengers who can’t get a hold of customer service. It’s an unacceptable situation and Southwest needs to step up and again take care of their passengers and their employees, many of whom are in the same boat across the country.”

Jordan, in his update, said he is in discussions with Buttigieg about ways the airline is making “things right for our customers.”

He again apologized for the issues and promised this will not happen again: “We’re focused on safely getting all of the pieces back into position to end this rolling struggle. You know, I have nothing but pride and respect for the efforts of the people of Southwest who are showing up in every way. The tools we use to recover from disruption serve us well, 99 percent of the time; but clearly, we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now.”

On Wednesday, according to flight-tracking website, 2,509 of the nation’s 2,778 canceled flights are Southwest Airlines flights, a trend that is expected to continue throughout the week as Southwest works to stabilize operations.

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