Southwest Airways to testify at U.S. Senate listening to after meltdown


By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Southwest Airways Chief Working Officer Andrew Watterson will testify on Feb. 9 earlier than the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee after a vacation meltdown pressured the finances provider to cancel 1000’s of flights.

The listening to titled “Strengthening Airline Operations and Shopper Protections” may even embrace Southwest Airways Pilots Affiliation President Captain Casey Murray, Sharon Pinkerton, a senior official with Airways for America, an business group, and Paul Hudson, who heads Flyers’ Rights, a passenger advocacy group.

The committee had requested Chief Govt Bob Jordan to testify, an individual briefed on the matter informed Reuters, however Southwest informed Reuters “sadly, the date that was chosen for the listening to subsequent week overlapped a earlier dedication for Bob.”

Southwest stated Jordan is slated to talk on Wednesday at an worker rally in Baltimore.

The listening to will overview causes and impacts of latest air journey disruptions together with the Southwest December vacation operational woes that resulted in additional than 16,000 flight cancellations.

Southwest shares closed down 1.3%.

Jordan has repeatedly apologized for the mass cancellations and stated the provider is taking a look at all choices to forestall a repeat.

Southwest stated, “Andrew has been working in lockstep with Bob as Southwest manages restoration efforts. As Southwest’s chief working officer, Andrew is exceptionally properly positioned to handle the matters coated on the listening to.”

Pilot’s union head Murray informed Reuters in December that “Southwest is utilizing outdated know-how and processes, actually from the ’90s, that may’t sustain with the community complexity at present.”

COO Watterson stated final month that the airline’s crew scheduling software program didn’t cease working, “however a mixture of our processes and the know-how could not sustain with the tempo of cancellations on the peak of the climate disruption.”

Southwest is going through a lawsuit from shareholders and regulatory scrutiny over its flight scheduling and dealing with of greater than 16,700 cancellations that disrupted journey plans for about 2 million clients throughout a busy vacation season.

The U.S. Transportation Division (USDOT) is investigating whether or not Southwest engaged in “unrealistic scheduling of flights” in December. USDOT has forwarded 1000’s of complaints it acquired to Southwest.

In a Reuters interview this week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg declined to element what investigative steps USDOT had taken within the Southwest probe however stated “we’re actually taking a look at a number of issues without delay.”

Buttigieg stated his quick focus is “ensuring the passengers who acquired caught up on this are made entire.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Modifying by Invoice Berkrot, Jonathan Oatis and Marguerita Choy)