Southwest Airlines’ next CEO says carrier will cut flights next year if staffing falls short

Southwest Airlines customers suffered hundreds of cancelations, delays and other disruptions this summer as the carrier struggled with snowballing problems of bad weather and a lack of staff.

Its next CEO, Bob Jordan, vowed not to repeat that. The airline is about halfway to its goal of hiring 5,000 workers this year and has already trimmed its schedule for the rest of 2021 to avoid further service shortfalls. The airline, and others like Spirit and American, set out to operate an ambitious schedule over the summer to try to recover revenues lost during the coronavirus pandemic, but a shortfall of staff exacerbated operational issues.

“The next question is the March schedule. We plan to meet that but if we find ourselves not able to hire to meet that we’ll go back and look at modifying the schedule,” Jordan said in an interview on Thursday. “What we’re not going to do is we’re not going to repeat last summer.”

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