Despite the easing of the pandemic restrictions, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines already made its move to reduce their flights to give way for a much busier summer schedule according to a Dallas Morning News article from April 28. They say,
“Along with delays in aircraft orders, Southwest like other airlines and companies across the economy is trying to adjust on the fly to supply chain and labor shortages crimping the COVID-19 pandemic recovery, even as consumer spending remains strong.
Southwest, which announced another quarter of pandemic-era losses on Thursday, cut about 20,000 flights between June and Labor Day and pushed up hiring plans by another 2,000 workers, bringing the goal to 10,000 net new workers for the year.
“Of course, if we need to trim more capacity we certainly can,” said Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan Thursday. “But I’m cautiously optimistic that we can get to a good balance of headcount and operate our schedules for the remainder of the year.”
The staffing challenges date back more than a year to when airlines were recalling employees from voluntary pandemic leave. The airline has aggressively been hiring across the company but is facing its biggest shortages in pilots and flight instructors, key positions to put planes in the air. When Southwest can bring on new workers, there are delays because of a shortage of people to train.”
Despite the ongoing staffing challenges, other factors are not affecting the company as much especially after a gas oil hike came imminent back in March and April according to a Dallas Morning News article from March 15 which reports,
“While we’ve got a great plan for 2022, it all comes down to hiring,” Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan said in January.
Southwest hasn’t been hit as hard by higher fuel prices as other airlines because it aggressively hedges against high fuel prices. About 65% of the company’s fuel is bought with hedged contracts, the company said in an investor presentation.
“The pricing environment has been healthy as demand has been returning following the omicron variant,” she said.
Accordingly, this cutting of schedules should be seen as a stepping stone for the airline company in making a comeback. This is because the airline staff and crews are able to adjust and focus more on their regular schedules. Of course, the ongoing hiring should be able to provide support in the long run as they employ more and more until things are back to normal.