According to internal memos distributed to employees in the last few days, Southwest Airlines has sent a call to flight attendants and a slew of other employee job groups, pushing them to pick up extra shifts to avoid a crunch over the Fourth of July weekend.
To keep the airline fully staffed during the holiday weekend, the Dallas-based airline is giving employees double compensation if they work on their days off or even work double shifts.
Due to extreme weather across parts of the United States last weekend, Southwest Airlines was forced to cancel or postpone thousands of flights. Last Friday, three Southwest passengers were taken to the hospital after turbulence interrupted their Chicago to Salt Lake City aircraft.
In an internal memo, Alan Kasher, Southwest’s executive vice president of daily operations, said, “We have heard from many of you who are disappointed with our network reliability and irregular operations caused by summer storms across various parts of the country.”
The note was titled: “We Need Your Help This Holiday Travel Week.”
“To alleviate the situation in the short term, we will be encouraging our Ops Employees by boosting overtime compensation from July 1 to July 7 during this busy holiday travel week,” the memo stated.
Southwest’s ground and cargo operations personnel will receive double pay for working on their usual days off, in addition to flight attendants.
The Southwest pilot union has failed to reach an agreement with the airline to incentivize additional flight crew labor, potentially throwing a wrench in the works. Pilot shortages were to blame for Delta’s recent meltdowns.
The offer of double pay for pilots was deemed “inadequate” by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.
During the pandemic, Southwest Airlines did not have to furlough any of its employees, but soon-to-be-departed CEO Gary Kelly came close to doing so for the first time in the airline’s history.
Furloughs were threatened after certain employees, notably flight attendants, refused to accept temporary salary cuts. Finally, Congress granted additional payroll assistance funding, eliminating the need for any furloughs.