South West under fire for promoting executives amid flight slump that has left thousands stranded

South West under fire for promoting executives amid flight slump that has left thousands stranded

South West under fire for promoting executives amid flight slump that has left thousands stranded

Southwest Airlines has had a miserable holiday season, but several of the company’s top executives can console themselves with promotions.

For the company under fire announced that it is raising five executives in several different areas of the organization, including the communications division and network operations control.

“These changes, which are effective immediately, represent the second phase of organizational structure work that began in September 2022,” Southwest said in a statement.

“This phase will provide strong synergies by bringing teams together, which will strengthen our operational execution and better serve our people and customers.”

Watchdogs were unimpressed with the announcement, which comes just weeks after a massive operational breakdown following a severe winter storm left thousands of passengers stranded at airports across the country and a beleaguered Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg promising the airline would be held accountable. .

So far, however, Mr Buttigieg and US airline regulators have taken no major action to hold Southwest accountable for the debacle.

Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, wrote on Twitter that the timing of the promotions suggests the airline is not particularly concerned about possible retaliation.

“After last month’s utter disaster, Southwest is holding its executives to account by… offering them promotions,” Mr. Stoller wrote. “They just make fun of Pete Buttigieg. And why wouldn’t they?

Mr Buttigieg and airline regulators have come under heavy criticism over the winter break from consumer protection advocates who say they have not done enough to protect passengers at following the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted air travel.

Over the summer, a series of airline cancellations led watchdogs and several prominent congressional Democrats to call on Mr. Buttigieg to take action to strengthen consumer protections and hold airlines accountable.

But that didn’t happen, with Southwest employees saying the airline’s cancellations in December were the result of the company’s cost-cutting maneuvers that prevented it from investing in technology that could have help her weather the storm and the busy holiday season.

Other airlines canceled flights directly affected by the storm, but then quickly recovered. The Southwest did not.

Democratic lawmakers have kept the pressure on Mr. Buttigieg in recent days.

“Given the magnitude of Southwest Airlines’ most recent operational failures and the devastating impact of these failures and other airline cancellations continue to have on American consumers, we believe there is still much to do,” wrote a group of 26 Democratic lawmakers. to Mr. Buttgieg in a letter last week.

The airline industry has frustrated a number of lawmakers since Congress passed a major bailout for the industry after the pandemic. Southwest’s promotions are unlikely to quell that frustration.

“Southwest believed its executives deserved a promotion after leaving thousands of its consumers in deep trouble in the middle of the peak holiday season,” said Liz Zelnick, Director of the Economic Security and Corporate Power Program at Accountable.US.

“It’s the behavior of a company that has no intention of changing course from management decisions that seek to enrich shareholders while letting consumers bear the brunt.”

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