Southwest Airlines’ next CEO says airlines will cut next year’s flights in case of staff shortage

Texas News Today

Southwest Airlines customers faced snowboarding issues such as bad weather and staff shortages this summer, leading to hundreds of cancellations, delays and other upheaval.

The next CEO, Bob Jordan, vowed not to repeat this. The airline has reached nearly half of its target of hiring 5,000 employees this year and has already adjusted the schedule for the rest of the year to avoid further service shortages. The airline, and other airlines such as Spirit and American, were set to operate an ambitious program last summer to recover lost income during the pandemic, but staff shortages exacerbated operational problems.

“The next question is the March schedule. I plan on getting it done, but if I can’t get hired to get it done, I’ll go back and consider changing the schedule,” Jordan said in an interview on Thursday. Rice field. “What we don’t do is we’re not going to repeat this last summer.”

Taking over from Gary Kelly in February, Jordan, a 33-year-old Southwest Airlines employee, plans to add 8,000 employees next year at the Skift Global Forum in New York on Thursday. Said that. The Dallas-based airline has approximately 56,000 employees.

Recruitment was a challenge.

“We are removing all the stops,” Jordan said. He said the airline has increased its starting salary to $15 an hour while offering retention bonuses, referral bonuses and additional wages for some markets with high cost of living, such as Denver. ..

Jordan said he was confident he could reach the goal of adding 5,000 workers this fall, but said competition was fierce. Employers, from retailers to airlines to restaurants, have struggled to fill their jobs and have turned to bonuses and higher wages to attract workers.

“You see $15. [an hour] At Loews and McDonald’s,” he said, “the market is setting interest rates and we still don’t know if that’s fully met.” “

Jordan previously told Skift that his career typically accepts 42 or 43 applicants per open position, and now has about 14 applicants.

Southwest Airlines lowered its third-quarter earnings outlook in August due to weak bookings during a rise in Covid-19 delta variant cases.

“Holiday bookings are very well organized,” Jordan said. “We think we are behind this delta wave.”

Southwest Airlines and other airlines have tried to ensure that their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. United Airlines has the strictest policy. Barring a few exceptions, the requirement for 67,000 US workers to be vaccinated or face retirement is an absolute liability. In November, Delta will charge an additional $200 per month on company health insurance for unvaccinated employees.

Southwest Airlines is currently offering incentives such as two days’ pay to employees who upload vaccination certificates. Jordan told CNBC he wants to use the stimulus and doesn’t want to issue a vaccine mandate.

“The topic of vaccines and obligations is personal and emotional, but ultimately, as a country and a business, we need to vaccinate as many people as possible,” he said. “I want to get there through incentives, incentives, and data, rather than obligations. I want employees to have options.”

However, government vaccination obligations for large employers as well as government contractors may change this. Southwest Airlines operates charter flights for government and other services, so it falls into both categories.

“There’s a lot to learn about what the rules are,” he said.

Jordan said the percentage of vaccinated workers is not yet clear, but the new incentives will provide more data. They estimated that the percentage of companies with fully vaccinated employees reflects the national average of more than 64% of the US population over the age of 12. ..

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