Southwest CEO Apologizes for Travel Issues, Hopes to Be ‘Back on Track Before Next Week’

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Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Scott Olson/Getty Images

Southwest CEO Bob Jordan apologized for the company’s travel issues in a video statement Tuesday evening, saying that the airline is determined to upgrade its systems “for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now.”

“I want everyone who is dealing with the problems we’ve been facing — whether you haven’t been able to get to where you need to go or you’re one of our heroic employees caught up in a massive effort to stabilize the airline — to know is that we’re doing everything we can to return to a normal operation and please also hear that I’m truly sorry,” Jordan began, explaining why the “giant puzzle is taking us several days to solve.”

Jordan explained that Southwest is the largest carrier in the country, building a flight schedule around what he described as “communities” rather than “hubs.”

“So we’re the largest airline in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the US cities where large numbers of scheduled flights simultaneously froze as record, bitter cold brought challenges for all airlines,” he said, characterizing the Southwest network as “highly complex.”

“And the operation of the airline counts on all the pieces, especially aircraft and crews remaining  in motion to where they plan to go with a large fleet of airplanes and flight crews out of position in dozens of locations and after days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached the decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up,” he said, describing the return to normalcy as a “rolling struggle.”

Jordan admitted that the company must “double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what’s happening right now” and offered further apologies, assuring customers that teams are issuing refunds and reroutes.

The CEO maintained that the airline will work on a reduced flight schedule moving forward and expressed hope that the airline will be “back on track” before next week.

“Our plan for the next few days is to fly a reduced schedule and reposition our people and planes and we’re making headway, and we’re optimistic to be back on track before next week. We have some real work to do in making this right for now,” he added.

WATCH:

Southwest airlines has canceled thousands of flights over the last week, canceling 2,694 flights, or 64 percent, on Tuesday alone.

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