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Southwest develops software fixation to prevent travel meltdowns

After the disastrous Christmas travel season, which saw 16,700 flight cancellations, Southwest Airlines is testing new software solutions – and facing an investigation from the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) for “unrealistic flight planning”.

Lowe Llaguno | Shutterstock

That reports CNN that the airline’s existing software system is maintained. However, changes coming from Southwest’s assessment include a new command center team, improvements to the phone system, and an overall improved preparedness for bad weather.

In a Thursday call with investors, the Portland Press Announces reports that Southwest CEO Bob Jordan defended the company’s systems and operational plans, saying, “Based on what we know at this time, our processes and technology generally worked as designed.”

Southwest also announced on Thursday that it had a $220 million revenue loss in the third quarter of 2022. At the same time, Jordan assured investors that problems that dogged the airline over the holidays “will never happen again”.

Southwest had a lot of cancellations during the holiday season, in part because their system requires crew members to call in instead of updating their availability electronically. On Thursday, the company’s COO Andrew Watterston called that “a problem,” then explained, “It wasn’t the problem for the situation. It was a symptom of the problem.”

According to Jordan, the move to electronic reporting will necessitate changes to pilots’ and flight attendants’ employment contracts. CNN says Southwest is currently negotiating to replace existing contracts that address several issues, including pay and benefits.

Despite technical glitches, the Press Herald notes that Bob Jordan said Southwest would pay $1.3 billion this year for the upcoming upgrades. The “recent disruptions,” Jordan said, “are likely to accelerate some of our plans to improve our processes and technology.”

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