Southwest comes under fire for promoting executives amid flight meltdown that has stranded thousands

Southwest Airlines has had a miserable holiday season, but few of the company’s top executives are able to console themselves with promotions.

Underfire company announced that it has raised five executives in several different areas of the organization, including the communications division and network operations control.

“These changes, 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 synergy by bringing Teams together that will strengthen our Operational execution and better serve our Employees and Customers.”

The watchdogs were unimpressed by the announcement, which came just weeks after a major operational failure following a severe winter storm left thousands of passengers stranded at airports around the country, and Transport Minister Pete Buttigieg promised the airline would be held accountable. .

But so far, Mr. Buttigieg and US airline regulators have not taken any major steps to hold Southwest responsible for the fiasco.

Matt Stoller, research director of the American Economic Liberties Project, wrote on Twitter that the timing of the promotions shows that the airline is not particularly afraid of any potential retaliation.

“After last month’s utter disaster, Southwest is holding to account with a lot of promotions from its executives,” Stoller wrote. “They’re just making fun of Pete Buttigieg. And why not?”

Mr Buttigieg and airline regulators have come under heavy criticism from consumer protection advocates who believe they are not doing nearly enough to protect passengers during the winter holidays in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc on air travel.

Over the summer, a string of airline cancellations prompted custodians and several prominent Congressional Democrats to call on Mr Buttigieg to take measures to increase consumer protections and hold airlines accountable.

But that didn’t happen, as Southwest workers said the airline’s December cancellations were a result of cost-cutting maneuvers that led the company to fail to invest in technology that could help it move through the storm and busy holiday season.

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

Democratic lawmakers have continued the crackdown on Mr Buttigieg in recent days.

A group of 26 Democratic lawmakers said, “In light of the magnitude of Southwest Airlines’ latest operational failures and the devastating impact of those failures and other airlines’ devastating impact, the impact of the cancellations on American consumers continues, we believe much more needs to be done.” To Mr Buttgieg in a letter last week.

The airline industry has disappointed a number of lawmakers since Congress passed a major bailout for the industry after the pandemic hit. Promotions in Southwest are unlikely to appease this disappointment.

“Southwest felt that its managers deserved a promotion after they put thousands of consumers in trouble during the peak holiday season travel,” he said. Liz Zelnick, director of the Economic Security and Institutional Power program at Accountable.US.

“This is the behavior of a company that has no intention of diverting from management decisions aimed at enriching shareholders, leaving the bag to consumers.”

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