Southwest Airlines just made a sneaky admission that will piss off customers | Tech US News


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Southwest Airlines/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk

Do you find yourself breathing a little deeper these days?

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The evenings are getting darker and darker, the pressure of work more and more insurmountable.

You must be somewhere else. You need to experience different people, different places and different smells.

Basically, you want to escape.

However, finding cheap and affordable flights is not so easy.

Airlines do not see a decline in demand. Their managers salivate at the sight of overbooked flights and even the temptation of overbooking.

This will surely leave travelers wondering, as they desperately try to find a holiday flight – and then the money to pay for it – why isn’t holiday flying the way it used to be?

To help, Southwest Airlines decided to tell them this.

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Well, not exactly tell the passengers, but tell the financial community why Southwest isn’t making even more money than it is.

As he presented his very strong third-quarter results — record revenue, record passenger numbers — the airline’s CEO offered some nuance. Speaking to CNBC, he reflected, if only in a way, that his airline could not offer, say, a record number of flights.

In the fourth quarter, he said, the airline is “looking for a resurgence in revenue even with reduced capacity.”

I reached for my abacus and realized that this might mean flights will be more expensive. How else will an airline make more money with fewer seats?

When asked where the problem really was, Jordan was succinct: “Right for the pilots.”

Did he blame the pilots — who aren’t all that happy with Southwest right now — for the lack of more capacity? God, no. He blamed the lack of more capacity on the lack of more pilots.

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“We are short of pilots to fly all our planes,” he said. “Our classes are full, we’re getting pilots, we’re getting great pilots, but our training centers are full.”

But how long can this condition last? “We won’t catch the plane until probably late 2023,” Jordan admitted. So this pilot shortage may not have been a pure pandemic thing, but something that will last much longer?

What does this mean in terms of Southwest’s ability to offer seats to the desperate who just want to get away?

“If we had all the pilots we need,” Jordan said, “we could probably fly 5 to 8% more ASM (available seat miles).”

You may be inclined to empathize. You realize that recruiting has been tough over the last year or two. And of course I want to be good with you.

There is only one thought in my head.

When the pandemic hit, the airlines were begging for our money — that is, through the government. They received tens of billions in aid funds.

One of their next steps was to offer a buyout to the staff — including the pilots, you know. It was clear that the number of employees was decreasing. But the bailout money is supposed to keep the group together. Airlines are expected to be fully staffed for the inevitable post-pandemic rush.

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You’re experiencing this woodpecker too, aren’t you? You imagine some of that relief money might have gone to pay for employee buyouts.

Of course, I would not even dream of such cynical logic. However, the House Oversight Committee recently asked the Treasury Department whether airlines may have used your money to shed staff. Including the number of pilots.

Oh, you know that passengers can’t do anything about all this. Also, travelers know how rampant cancellations – and higher fares – have been recently.

I wonder how many people will change plans specifically because Southwest can’t increase their capacity by 5 to 8%.

I hope you have already made the holidays. And please look forward to next year. Maybe, just maybe, supply will meet demand.



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