Southwest Pilots Call For CEO’s Resignation

Image courtesy of (David Transier)

Earlier today, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly likened a recent days-long massive technical glitch that canceled 700 flights, stranding thousands of passengers last week to a “once-in-a-thousand-year flood.” But pilots for the airline say the issue could have been avoided if someone other than Kelly were at the helm of the company.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association unanimously agreed to a “vote of no confidence” for Kelly and Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven, calling for the executives to step down amid the widespread technological glitch last week.

The Union says in a statement [PDF] that Kelly’s “misguided focus on cost control” led the airline to prioritize cost-cutting initiatives over “critically needed” technological upgrades.

The Association says in a statement that had Kelly put more emphasis on the carriers’ technology instead of cost cutting, the issue likely would have been prevented.

“We believe that a change is needed for the best interests of Southwest Airlines and the loyal customers we serve,” Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association, said in a statement Monday. “We encourage, effective immediately, their replacement in order to secure a more stable, sustainable and profitable future.”

The pilots’ group, which is in contract talks with Southwest, claims that executives for the airline have used record revenue to buy back “excessive shares of stock” rather than invest in important technology or staff.

The union claims the glitch last week isn’t the first time Southwest executives have failed passengers.

A January 2014 operational issue at Midway Airport and summer and holiday travel issues in 2014 to 2016 contributed to a “meltdown” related to last week’s technological infrastructure, the group said.

“As Southwest Airlines continues down this path as one of the ‘Big Four’ domestic carriers and expands its operational footprint, SWAPA believes it is time for new leadership in order to propel this company forward,” the union said in a statement.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association’s National Executive Council (NEC) has also completed a vote of no confidence.

[via Bloomberg]

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