Southwest asks HQ employees to ditch normal jobs to pitch in to get flights back on track, leaked memo says

Southwest Airlines.
Southwest Airlines corporate employees are being asked to help the airline's schedulers get back on track.Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock
  • Southwest Airlines is battling an operational meltdown, canceling over 9,000 flights since Sunday.

  • The carrier asked corporate employees to volunteer to work eight-hour shifts to help with crew scheduling.

  • The shifts would be in lieu of normal day-to-day work duties, according to an internal memo.

Southwest Airlines is doing everything it can to get its schedule back on track — including asking for extra help from its corporate employees.

On Wednesday, workers at the airline's Dallas headquarters were asked to volunteer for one of three possible eight-hour shifts that will operate 24 hours a day to help with crew scheduling, according to an internal memo viewed by Insider. The shift would be worked instead of each employee's normal day-to-day duties and the memo does not mention incentives like extra pay.

Southwest confirmed to Insider that additional employees were assisting crew schedulers with their duties.

To be a crew scheduler at Southwest, new hires must complete extensive training. The employees are responsible for ensuring each Southwest flight is staffed with pilots and flight attendants, notifying crew members of their flight duties, and managing crew schedules. To prepare untrained corporate employees for the task, the memo said a "train the trainer" approach would be used, meaning volunteers would sit next to a scheduler to learn to ropes.

The move comes as Southwest continues to battle an operational meltdown that was caused by the winter storm and "scheduling issues." Since Sunday, the airline has canceled over 9,000 flights, according to FlightAware data.

Captain Mike Santoro, vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told Insider on Tuesday that the airline's scheduling software is "outdated" and needs an upgrade.

A Southwest spokesperson said the airline was working on upgrading its systems.

"In our desired state, we will have automation that can handle crew reassignments quickly and efficiently," the spokesperson told Insider. "We are focused on making investments in technology upgrades to work toward that solution and obviously need to complete that work."

Despite the frustrations, the carrier is working hard to get fix its operation, including running just one-third of its flights over the "next several days" and helping affected customers with rebookings and hotel accommodations, its people have said.

"We are focused on safely getting all of the pieces back into position to end this rolling struggle," Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said on Tuesday night. "I have nothing but pride and respect for the efforts of the people of Southwest who are showing up in every way."

Read the original article on Business Insider