New York CNN
Southwest Airlines unveiled a 'action plan" to prevent a repeat of the operational meltdown that occurred in December last year, which resulted in 16,700 cancelled flights and 2,000,000 passengers left stranded during the busy holiday travel period.
The plan of the airline calls for increased availability of winter equipment at certain airports and more staff, investments in technology that will help it restart operations quickly during extreme weather conditions and improved communication between departments involved with flight operations.
A winter storm that swept through the United States late last year disrupted thousands flights. Southwest Airlines took several days to return to normal operation, despite the fact that many airlines recovered relatively quickly. The crew was left stranded as they could not communicate with their schedulers and dispatchers, and legacy technology of the airline couldn't keep up with changes.
Southwest (LUV), in its action plan published on Thursday, said that it had 'taken weeks to sort out the complexity of contributing factor'. The 'root cause and lessons learned' are now guiding efforts to make Southwest better prepared for truly extreme winter weather.
This year, the Dallas-based airline will invest $1.3 billion in technology projects. That's about 25% more than what it spent last year, the year prior to the pandemic.
Southwest's meltdown drew the ire of Congress as well as its pilot union. The pilots union testified in the past that the operation had been held together with 'duct tap', and that technology failures at the airline were predictable and preventable as the system failed multiple times "with increasing frequency and size." The Department of Transportation also investigates the airline.