Southwest Airlines facing labor, safety and revenue problems – an undesirable trifecta of issues for any airline.
Labor issues: Since Tuesday of this week, Southwest has been forced to cancel more than 600 flights with the majority being due to mechanical issues with its aircraft. Southwest is blaming this on the union that represents aircraft maintenance technicians. In turn, the union is advising that its mechanics are being pressured to overlook potential safety concerns for the sake of putting planes back into service quickly. Further, Southwest has the fewest mechanics-to-aircraft ratio of any major airline.
Safety: The FAA is investigating Southwest for the way it tracks the weight of checked bags on flights. The issues, described as ‘systemic and significant’ cause pilots to miscalculate the weight & balance of planes at takeoff, in some cases by many hundreds of pounds.
Financial: Southwest has announced that it lost $60 million from the government shutdown. Its plethora of canceled flights due to mechanical issues – without an end in sight to this practice – is adding to the airline’s financial woes.