Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan ‘optimistic to get back on track by next week’

ARLINGTON, Va. — Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said Tuesday that he is “optimistic about getting back on track by next week.”

In a video posted on Southwest’s Twitter page Tuesday night, Jordan said the airline would reduce its flight schedule for a few days to “relocate our people and aircraft” after thousands of flights were canceled across the country. .

Jordan blamed the winter storm for disrupting the airline’s “highly complex” network. The tools Southwest uses to recover from the outage “work 99% of the time, but obviously we need to double down” on upgrading the system to avoid a repeat this week, he said.

Southwest has issued a public apology — more than any other airline — after more than 70 percent of its flights were canceled the day after Christmas.

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Spirit Airlines and Alaska Airlines have both canceled about 10% of their flights, with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and JetBlue canceling far less.

This difference leads to U.S. Department of Transportation questioned Whether cancellations can be avoided and whether Southwest Airlines adheres to its customer service policies.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has criticized airlines for previous outages, said his agency would investigate why Southwest Airlines’ widespread cancellations were and whether the airline met its legal obligations to stranded customers .

“While we all know you can’t control the weather, this has clearly shifted from weather conditions beyond our control to the direct responsibility of the airlines,” Buttigieg said. told “NBC Nightly News.”

At a minimum, Southwest should pay cash refunds for canceled flights and pay for lodging and meals for stranded passengers, he said.

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In Congress, the Senate Commerce Committee has also pledged to investigate. Two Senate Democrats called on Southwest Airlines to provide “substantial” compensation for stranded passengers, saying the airline has the money because it plans to pay a $428 million dividend next month.

Jordan said he had spoken to Buttigieg “to continue our discussions with DOT” and “to share all the things we’re doing to do the right thing for our customers.”

“We’ve got some real work to do to get that right,” said Jordan, a 34-year-old Southwest veteran who became chief executive in February. “Now, I want you to know we’re committed to this.”