With Southwest Airlines now selling tickets to Hawaii they should be flying high. Not only is this a new desirable market, it should support credit card acquisitions because customers can now spend their points for more aspirational destinations.
But the carrier has been hobbled.
- Mechanics slowing down the airline. The carrier argues their mechanics have been writing up frivolous items and unnecessarily grounding planes as contract negotiations dragged on.
- Grounding of the 737 MAX. Southwest, an all-737 operator, is has 34 MAX aircraft compared to 24 at American.
The ground of 3% of the airline’s fleet is manageable — when their broader fleet isn’t getting grounded unexpectedly based on the creativity of employees working at cross-purposes from the airline. In some cases unscheduled aircraft downtime quintupled.
SWA says “We have identified a group of approximately 100 Mechanics who are responsible for virtually the entire increase in UAD hours…This concentration of activity in a discernable pattern makes clear that the source of the increase…is an unlawful concerted activity.” pic.twitter.com/0KnECplZAp
— Kris Van Cleave (@krisvancleave) February 23, 2019
Now the ‘unscheduled aircraft downtime’ should come to an end because Southwest and its mechanics have agreed to a new contract with big wage increases.
A 5-year deal, 20% raises up front, then 3% a year for @AMFANational mechanics at @SouthwestAir. That’s more upfront and a much bigger ratification bonus ($160 million vs. $91 million) than last year’s rejected offer. https://t.co/H9Ns8w6krK
— David Koenig (@airlinewriter) March 17, 2019
Things had gotten pretty nasty, with the airline taking its employees to court. Acrimonious labor relations are anathema to the culture of the airline. Fortunately for customers, even if there’s lingering resentment it’s not among flight attendants or customer service agents. And a big up front raise may help ameliorate bitterness.
Now American Airlines needs to improve its reliability by striking a deal with its mechanics.