Southwest Apologizes to Employees over Workload

Southwest Apologizes to Employees over Workload

Southwest Airlines, facing a potential picket by frontline workers, apologized to all workers on Friday about the grueling schedule over the summer.

The Dallas-based carrier said it will contemplate schedule changes for this fall.


Unions for many workers have complained about Southwest’s mismanagement, low staffing and scheduling issues, saying the carrier is “severely understaffed,” forcing employees to regularly work the maximum number of hours permitted by federal law.

Another problem being reported is that when flight crews arrive at their destinations, there is little to no hotel or food availability, with many employees complaining they cannot reach the company for help.

Southwest promised to address the issues, which started with an increase in flights earlier this spring to match the surprising demand for a return to travel from the public.

The increase in bookings was a welcome change compared to “a year ago, but we have to be honest with ourselves: it’s also taken a toll on our operation and put a significant strain on all of you. And for that, I am sincerely sorry,” wrote COO Mike Van de Ven in a staff note, which was seen by CNBC.

Southwest had a 64 percent on-time arrival rate between June 1 and August 18, lower than American, Delta and United, according to data from Cirium.

Van de Ven said the carrier is “continuing to evaluate our fourth quarter flight schedules, and we’re taking a serious look at flight levels to ensure that our flying aligns with the staffing needed to operate within this more complicated COVID environment.”

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