- Southwest Airlines customers suffered hundreds of cancelations, delays and other disruptions this summer as the carrier struggled with snowballing problems of bad weather and a lack of staff.
- Its next CEO, Bob Jordan, vowed not to repeat that. The airline is about halfway to its goal of hiring 5,000 workers this year and has already trimmed its schedule for the rest of 2021 to avoid further service shortfalls.
- “The next question is the March schedule. We plan to meet that but if we find ourselves not able to hire to meet that we’ll go back and look at modifying the schedule,” Jordan said in an interview on Thursday. “What we’re not going to do is we’re not going to repeat last summer.”
- Jordan said he was confident that it could reach its goal to add 5,000 workers this fall, but noted competition has been brutal. Employers from retailers to airlines to restaurants have struggled to fill jobs and turned to bonuses and higher pay to attract workers.
- Jordan told Skift earlier that the carrier usually receives 42 or 43 applicants per open position and is now seeing about 14.
- Southwest in August cut its third-quarter revenue outlook, citing weaker bookings during a rise in delta-variant cases of Covid-19.
- “The holiday bookings are holding up really well,” Jordan said. “It feels like we are on the backside of this delta wave.”
- The Department of Transportation said Friday that it has fined United Airlines $1.9 million for keeping thousands of passengers stuck on planes for hours in violation of federal rules, the largest penalty of its kind.
- The department pointed to 20 domestic flights in which passengers were held on the tarmac for longer than three hours, and five international flights where the delay was at least four hours. In all, 3,218 passengers were affected. Almost all the incidents involved bad weather, according to an order spelling out the basis for the fine.
- The fine was a result of a settlement between the government and the airline, but the order says United disputed some of the facts. Hobart said that some of the 25 incidents stretched back five years and that United and its partners had operated 8 million flights in that time.
- Five of the flights the Transportation Department identified occurred on a single day in 2019, when a snowstorm at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport led United to divert planes to Dane County Regional Airport in Madison, Wis. Because of the number of diverted flights, the Transportation Department said, “United’s resources at the airport became overwhelmed.”
- In one case, passengers sat on a plane for four hours and one minute.
- Of the $1.9 million, United is required to use $750,000 to compensate passengers on the affected flights and others who have faced delays. The airline will get to keep $200,000 to cover the cost of developing a diversion management system.
- American Airlines pilots’ union says that company managers should be replaced because of the hundreds of flight disruptions that affected tens of thousands of customers this year.
- The board of directors of the Allied Pilots Association this week approved a resolution that calls on the company to change out the managers responsible for the airline’s operations, saying that staff failed to provide a reliable service and in turn, hurt the carrier’s brand.
- The board of directors “believes it is in the best interest of the American Airlines shareholders, employees, the communities it serves, and the traveling public for the management team members who control the American Airlines operation be replaced,” said the resolution. The union isn’t seeking top management be removed.
- American declined to comment on the union’s resolution but provided a company memo sent to pilots before Labor Day that said that pilot staffing had improved during the summer.
- “We feel good about where we are today and have worked hard to be able to ensure we are set up for success the rest of this year and beyond,” the memo said.
- Luxury is bouncing back: After a year of empty social calendars, two of the most prestigious and elite global events, Art Basel and the Monaco Yacht Show, returned this week amid much fanfare.
- In mid-September, the US Department of State issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel Advisory for U.S. citizens traveling to Switzerland due to Covid-19, meaning many Americans were noticeably missing from this year’s IRL event.
- With safety as a priority for many international visitors, private jet travel proved to be a popular means of transportation to the art fair.
- NetJets, the official Associate Partner of Art Basel, had around 20 of their private jets land in Basel on the first preview day alone. The company—as well as the private aviation industry on the whole—has been reporting record highs of usage, and in 2020 alone, the company saw a 350-percent increase in owners.
- “We have many new clients that are also new to private aviation,” says Carsten Michaelis, Executive Director Sales & Marketing, NetJets Europe. “We’re giving them control back and providing less [potential Covid-19] exposure. It’s all about peace of mind.”
- With Monaco just an hour’s flight away via the small airport in Basel, the Monaco Yacht Show is proving to be a popular post-Basel jaunt—especially for private jet owners.
- NetJets alone are conducting 168 flights between Basel and Nice over the week. (The private aviation company also has a long-standing partnership with yacht brokerage Northrop & Johnson, so as with Art Basel, NetJets owners are given exclusive tours and access at the Monaco Yacht Show.)