Southwest lost $220 million due to the holiday meltdown

Bad weather across the country forced thousands of flight cancellations in the days leading up to Christmas. But as conditions improved, Southwest struggled to return to normal operations.

Ultimately, the airline It also canceled thousands of flights To reset its network, it forces customers to waver and make other plans. All told, the airline canceled 16,700 flights between December 21 and December 31.

The airline’s unions accused management of failing to improve workforce scheduling systems and software. Southwest said the company spent $1 billion annually on technology and its systems worked as designed, but had to make a number of last-minute changes quickly because teams were far from where they should be.

“You try to solve these problems. When you solve them, you have more problems,” Mr. Jordan said. The New York Times said this month. “More cancellations, more complications; More cancellations, more complications. We couldn’t keep up with the volume — a level we’ve never seen before.”

Although the airline said its technology worked as planned, it admitted that its automated software could not help reassign crews from canceled flights. As a result, Southwest crews had to adjust the schedule manually. The company asked software maker GE Digital to replace the system and said Thursday that an update is weeks away.

The airline said it has taken a number of steps, including monitoring potential problems more closely, increasing staffing and improving tools used to schedule and communicate with employees. Southwest hired Oliver Wyman, a consulting firm, to investigate what went wrong.

“Following the immediate disruption, we quickly implemented mitigation efforts to reduce the risk of future operational disruptions and strengthen our operational resilience,” said Mr. Jordan said Thursday.

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