Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it would be increasing staffing to avoid another mass cancellations event. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
March 14 (UPI) -- Southwest Airlines said Tuesday that it would increase staffing and equipment to avoid another round of mass cancellations that cost the company millions of dollars.
The airline blamed winter weather and staffing issues that led it to cancel more than 16,000 flights during the last week of 2022. As a result, Southwest said that it expected a first-quarter loss of up to $350 million.
"We understand the root causes that led to the holiday disruption, and we're validating our internal review with the third-party assessment. Now, we expect to mitigate the risk of an event of this magnitude ever happening again," Bob Jordan, Southwest CEO, said in a statement.
"Work is well underway implementing action items to prepare for next winter -- with some items already completed. I want to thank our Employees and Customers for their patience and grace, and we're resolved to emerge an even stronger airline."
The Transportation Department said in January that it was investigating the carrier to determine whether it illegally overbooked passengers without the flights to accommodate.
"The DOT is in the initial phase of a rigorous and comprehensive investigation into Southwest Airlines' holiday debacle that stranded millions," a spokesperson told CNN and NBC News. "DOT has made clear to Southwest that it must provide timely refunds and reimbursements and will hold Southwest accountable if it fails to do so.
"DOT is also probing whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic scheduling of flights which under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice."
On Jan. 18, Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, called for a strike authorization vote citing a lack of progress in contract negotiations for pilots. The union set a strike authorization vote for May 1, to give proper warnings to customers and allow members to prepare of negotiations remain stalled.