Due to a scarcity of flight instructors, Southwest Airlines (LUV) has reduced the number of pilots it intends to hire in 2022.
While Southwest is still “actively recruiting” First Officers, the airline plans to hire fewer pilots than previously anticipated, according to a representative.
According to Bloomberg, the Dallas-based low-cost carrier expects to hire 1,200 additional First Officers in 2022, down from a previous estimate of 1,350.
According to Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, instructor scarcity has had a direct influence on the amount of training that can be delivered.
Murray added: “They are doing the absolute best they can, but they just don’t have the people for the amount of training needed.”
While summer travel demand is expected to be strong, US carriers such as United Airlines, JetBlue Delta, and Southwest have reduced capacity plans in response to increased oil prices.
Southwest has been dealing with staffing challenges, although being insulated from these expenses by its fuel hedges.
Due to personnel issues, the airline shortened its schedule and canceled more than 5,600 flights in January 2022. In the first three weeks of 2022, roughly 5,000 employees tested positive for COVID-19, according to the airline’s new CEO, Bob Jordan. Jordan, who began office on February 1, 2022, did say, though, that Southwest plans to hire 8,000 people in 2022.
Southwest expects capacity to be down 9-10% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to 2019, down from a previous estimate of 9%.
When compared to 2019, the airline expects capacity to be down 4% for the entire year of 2022.
Following the drop in traffic during the peak of the epidemic, many of the airline’s employees chose to retire or accept buyouts. While the airline does not have a shortage of pilots, it does have a shortage of luggage handlers, gate agents, and cabin cleaners.
According to a Bloomberg article, the airline forecasts a 7% reduction in flight capacity in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same period last year, as labor shortages persist.