Southwest Airlines grew from a start-up carrier back in 1967 to become the number-one airline in 2018. From that famous line in their early commercials, “more champagne?” to their catchphrase today, “your flight has been cancelled.” Socacanceledcome a long way, baby, but they lost their way. Southwest is in trouble.
Southwest suffers from a severe case of complacency. They enjoyed their success and forgot to plan for the future. They are short on pilots, short on staff, their planes are aging, and their computer system cannot satisfy their current demands. Even their telephone system is down because it is overloaded. They account for over 80% of the canceled flights since Christmas Eve, and you cannot get a Southwest flight for the next five days. Southwest customers are stranded in airports in every state, and many have no idea where their luggage has landed. With the breadth and magnitude of Southwest’s problems, this will not be a quick fix. We are witnessing a corporate meltdown.
Joe Biden made some comments about the situation before he boarded a flight to St Croix for a holiday vacation. By the way, this is Biden’s 60th long weekend away from Washington in two years. Biden said he would insist on accountability. Mayor Pete, AKA Pete Buttigieg, made the same claim. I am going to turn this back on Pete. You are the Secretary of Transportation. Why didn’t you see this meltdown coming? We demand accountability from you, Mayor Pete. Our demand is about the same as yours or Joe’s. They are all useless, for nobody is held accountable for anything today! You are not only untouchable for being Gay, but some people are foolish enough to think of Pete Buttigieg as a leading candidate for President in 2024. That is how low our standards have fallen.
Southwest Airlines was given $7 Billion of our tax dollars as part of the COVID PPP Program. That money was to shore up the company and heal the losses from the COVID shutdown. It was also to be used to improve the company infrastructure so it would be ready for the post-pandemic return to normalcy. Southwest used a good portion of the funds to thin its aging workforce through early retirements and lump-sum payouts. The company obviously felt its systems were adequate to handle its business level, which in retrospect, was a catastrophic mistake. Southwest’s internal phone system is so inadequate that pilots and crew are waiting hours to get to schedulers. Flights are canceled because the scheduled team was unaware of the assignment. We have a right to know how our money was spent; if necessary, some of it should be clawed back.
We should have accountability from Southwest and the entire airline industry to get explanations for the problems caused and what is being done to prepare for future demands. But, alongside the airline executives in front of Congress should sit Pete Buttigieg. He has shown his incompetence in handling the supply chain issues, the pending rail strike, and now the airline calamity. His inability to foresee and avoid these problems before they happen is apparent. We are not asking someone to look into a crystal ball and see the future. But we are looking for someone proactive to look at transportation industries and make sure they are taking steps to ensure safe, efficient travel for Americans. That person is not Mayor Pete, but we will never see him held accountable. Accountability is dead.