Southwest Airlines’ CEO has been warned by unions that fatigue is now the number one concern plaguing the carrier.
Robert Jordan received the letter, along with other executives, earlier this week and was told concerns had begun as long ago as the summer of 2021. The recent effects of scheduling issues, it says, has lead to fatigue records being smashed already this month.
“Fatigue, both acute and cumulative, has become Southwest Airlines’ number-one safety threat.”
According to the letter, there were 330% more pilots requesting leave from their assignments due to fatigue compared to the same month before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Growing demand worsening conditions
These figures have compounded staff and pilot shortages, and when coupled with the latest batch of poor weather affecting the US, have created a perfect storm of staff exhaustion.
Southwest has been quick to downplay the more recent impact of staff shortages, claiming to have seen a “significant and steady” fall in the number of absences relating to fatigue, owed apparently to a fix of its scheduling in November.
The Dallas-based airline was one of many that convinced scores of workers to resign during the height of the pandemic, as executives scrambled to keep costs down in the wake of the downturn in travel. Having since made a significant U-turn, thousands of staff are now in the process of being hired, according to the airline.
The number of daily travellers in the US reached 2 million last month, according to the FAA. As airlines now fight to secure both cabin crew and pilots, whether they are able to counteract the growing culture of feeling overworked remains to be seen.
Do you think that airline workers are overworked? Let us know in the comments below.