Southwest Airlines Co. has hired an outside consulting firm and is working to strengthen a crew scheduling system after a meltdown roiled its operations during the holidays, Chief Executive Bob Jordan said in an interview.
The airline canceled more than 16,700 flights from Dec. 21 through Dec. 31 after it struggled to recover from a severe winter storm long after rival airlines had resumed normal operations. Southwest has said the disruption will reduce its pretax earnings by $725 million to $825 million.
Southwest LUV, +2.78% has engaged Oliver Wyman, a consulting firm, to help it understand what went wrong and to examine whether it needs to reset priorities, Jordan said. Southwest’s board has also formed its own operations review committee to look at the disruption.
“What I want to understand are the root causes of how we got there,” Jordan said. “Should we manage things in a different way? Are we able to make decisions quickly enough?”
The airline is working with General Electric Co. GE, +1.51% on a fresh version of a crew scheduling system it uses to help it reassign pilots and flight attendants after a disruption like a storm, with new capabilities that the airline hopes would help it if it encounters a similar situation. That system, which Southwest refers to as SkySolver, was updated several times over the past year, Jordan said.
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