Southwest: Mechanics Dispute Costing Airline 'Millions' a Week
Southwest Airlines mechanics' operational disruptions are costing the carrier "millions" per week, CEO Gary Kelly said Tuesday.
Speaking at a JP Morgan conference in New York, Kelly said the losses were due to lost revenues and other costs associated with flight delays and cancellations, Reuters reports.
The dispute between the airline and its mechanics surfaced in February, when Southwest declared an "operational emergency" after about double the amount of normal aircraft were out of service, allegedly due to maintenance slowdowns. Southwest has been forced to cancel hundreds of flights in February and March as a result of the number of unavailable planes. On average, 20 planes out of Southwest’s Boeing 737 fleet have been out of service each day; last week, Southwest had to ground 45 planes on Feb. 26 and and 51 on Feb. 27.
The carrier filed a lawsuit last week against the mechanics' union, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, alleging that the group had encouraged its 2,400 workers to intentionally ground aircraft over minor maintenance issues in order to leverage the plane shortage in labor contract negotiations.
The union and airline have been in contract negotiations since 2012.