Southwest to upgrade crew-scheduling software, hire more staff during winter

FILE PHOTO: Travellers deal with weather cancellations at Chicago Midway International Airport

(Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co said on Tuesday it would upgrade its crew scheduling software and hire more staff in the winter, as the airline attempts to address gaps that led to large-scale cancellations during the holiday season.

The Dallas-based carrier has come under severe criticism ever since it suffered an operational meltdown around the Christmas holidays last year that disrupted travel plans for two million customers.

Customer phone systems will also be upgraded for better surge protection and efficiency during periods of high call volumes, the airline’s chief executive officer Bob Jordan wrote in his prepared remarks at the J.P. Morgan Chase Industrials Conference.

    Southwest also plans to combine various network planning and operations control teams under one leader to boost operational efficiency as well as invest in equipment for cold weather operations.

    “Work is well underway in implementing action items to prepare for next winter—with some items already completed,” Jordan added.

Separately, the carrier said it continues to forecast a loss in the current-quarter.

Shares of the airline rose 1.7% in premarket trading.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)