Southwest Airlines was obliged to restart flight attendant recruitment for a limited time last week due to a severe staffing shortage.
Last September, the airline accepted new flight attendant applications, a procedure that occurs every few years at the very least.
Southwest announced on Thursday that it would have to cut its summer schedule because it is failing to hire enough staff to keep up with a surge in travel demand.
Other airlines throughout the world have had similar problems. JetBlue announced earlier this week that it would be reducing its schedule due to a lack of manpower, while travelers in Europe continue to face challenges as airlines and airports struggle to rehire staff who were lost during the pandemic.
Southwest claims to have recovered from “acute personnel challenges” during the Omicron rush but maintains the problems will persist for at least the next few months.
“As we focus on the basics, our priorities for 2022 are clear: getting properly staffed and returning to historic operational reliability,” commented new chief executive Bob Jordan on Thursday.
“We remain intensely focused on our hiring and training efforts as we work diligently to restore our network and position the Company for future growth.”
Southwest intends to be “solidly profitable for the last three quarters of this year” and for the entire year of 2022, even after cutting its schedule.
Southwest has received “strong” bookings, and Jordan claims the airline is “significantly” protected from rising jet fuel prices since it hedged fuel at lower prices.
The Southwest flight attendant union blasted the airline last year for allegedly overworking crew members who were fatigued. Southwest was urged by the union to hire more employees in order to meet the increased demand.