October 27, 2021

Southwest Loses $75 Million During Alleged Employee Sick Time

  • Flyover Country

By: Konrad Holden

In Brief: 

According to SimpleFlying.com, an airline industry news site, the Southwest Airlines flight cancellations in mid-October cost the company $75 million. The flight cancellations were initially blamed on weather and air traffic control issues, though no other airlines were affected as badly. The company also announced that it expects to be down 15% to 25% in Q4.

The Background: 

The airline industry took a huge hit immediately after COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect. 

People were no longer allowed to travel, masks were required everywhere, and Americans were told not to visit their families for the holidays.

That industry downturn extended into 2021 and the 11 largest airlines reported pre-tax losses of $4.3 billion.

Now add on top of all that COVID-19 vaccine mandates and employee “sick-outs”.

Southwest Airlines, the world’s largest low-cost air carrier, experienced major delays and canceled over 1,800 flights in October due to an alleged coordinated protest by employees who did not want to receive the vaccine.

The company announced that the cancellations cost them $75 million in just a few short weeks. The bill included mainly customer refunds and gestures of goodwill. 

The company denies the cancellations were caused by a protest, though they announced plans to hire 5,000 employees by the end of the year.

Notable Quotes: 

“We have reined in our capacity plans to adjust to the current staffing environment, and our on-time performance has improved accordingly. We are aggressively hiring to a goal of approximately 5,000 new Employees by the end of this year, and we are currently more than halfway toward that goal.” - Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines CEO

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