DALLAS — A computer glitch in a system that was upgraded overnight Thursday caused Southwest to ground all flights for about an hour Friday morning, the latest in a week of woes for the Texas airline that also included labor disputes and aircraft maintenance issues.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly issued a statement late Friday calling the company's mechanics "extraordinary" and that "they deserve all of our thanks" and that they "deserve a new labor contract."
Read the statement in full below:
All Southwest Warriors,
We suddenly find ourselves in a period of tension and turmoil surrounding out-of-service aircraft for maintenance and AMFA contract negotiations. Over the past two weeks, this has created a hardship for many of our Operational Employees and Customers. I am sorry for that, but I thank you for all you are doing to deliver outstanding Hospitality. It is my duty to protect Southwest and all of its People and Stakeholders. We will do everything possible to take care of our Company and, by that, our People.
Our Mechanics are extraordinary. I am proud of them, and they have been especially heroic in getting aircraft returned to service over the last two weeks. They deserve all of our thanks.
They also deserve a new labor contract. Despite the fact that our other large groups’ contracts were done years ago, AMFA’s contract negotiations drag on. It’s not productive to assign blame for the past – everyone involved shares in that to any fair-minded person. What’s important is to focus on getting a contract out to our Mechanics for a vote, and for our Mechanics to be informed. The contract they voted down last year had the best, highest pay rate in the commercial airline industry, with minor work rule changes. In our current negotiations, there remain opportunities to improve upon the pay, with no impact to job security, in exchange for more supplier flexibility. Either way, it’s the industry’s best. For our Mechanics’ sake, I would not want these operational issues to delay or obstruct the upcoming March negotiations. What we all should desire with a laser focus – is a new contract.
All of us, along with our Southwest ancestors, have worked together and built one of the world’s greatest companies. We have a Purpose that swells our chests with immense pride. We have Customers who are raving fans and who love us. More – they depend on us. We have Employees who have built careers, homes, and sent kids to college. We have Retirees who, well, could retire! There’s no place like it. We are a low-cost, low-fare airline; but, not at the expense of our Employees. In fact, 40 percent of our operating costs are our People, or $7.6 billion a year.
Everyone who joins the Southwest family has a duty – to preserve, protect, nurture, and grow our beloved Company. We will always have disagreements, but the truest testament of our Culture – of each of us – is how we treat each other during conflicts. This is the airline that love built. It was built on integrity, hard work, and mutual respect. The end result can never be justified by ignoring those sacred values.
I wanted to assure you all these issues are being addressed. I remain profoundly grateful to all of you, and I’m confident that, working together as a family, we will prevail against the real adversary – the competition."