Southwest Airlines crew scheduling automation

Occurred: December 2022

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US carrier Southwest Airlines is under fire for having to cancel over 15,000 flights during poor weather, leaving travelers stranded over Christmas and needing to find alternative transportation.

Southwest uses SkySolver and Crew Web Access software to assign flight attendants and pilots to each flight, and to correct scheduling interruptions by moving planes and staff around the country as quickly as possible.

However, airline staff, unions, air industry professionals and commentators complain these systems are 'archaic', unable to meet increased demand, and that their overhaul has been put on ice for too long by Southwest's increasingly financial, as opposed to operations-driven, leadership.

Southwest Airlines' new CEO Bob Jordan has since acknowledged the airline's technology troubles, telling employees that 'they’ll be hearing more about our specific plans to ensure the challenges that they’ve faced the past few days will not be part of our future.'

Operator: Southwest Airlines
Developer: General Electric

Country: USA

Sector: Transport/logistics

Purpose: Schedule crew 

Technology: Crew scheduling software
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Robustness

Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: December 2022
Last updated: January 2023