Southwest Airlines resorted to drastic measures in an attempt to get its planes off the ground, pushing corporate workers to pick up shifts as schedulers.

The embattled airline sought volunteers at Southwest’s corporate offices in Dallas to bolster a shortage in a key role responsible for scheduling pilot and flight attendant staffing, according to an internal memo Wednesday.

The desperate push came before Southwest was forced to scrap more than 2,300 flights on Thursday — bringing the total number of cancellations to more than 16,000 during the Christmas holiday period.

“As we manage our network recovery, Southwest is utilizing employees across the airline to lend extra support to our customers and crews in many functions,” a spokesperson for the airline told The Post on Thursday.

Southwest said it plans to return to normal operations on Friday after days of running at a third of its usual capacity due to disruptions triggered by a massive winter storm that swept much of the United States around the Christmas holiday.

Southwest cancelled some 2,600 flights on Thursday. In total, it has cancelled more than 15,000 flights during the Christmas holiday period.
Southwest cancelled some 2,600 flights on Thursday. In total, it has canceled more than 15,000 flights during the Christmas holiday period.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

The internal company memo obtained by the news site Insider sought volunteers for one of three eight-hour shifts in a round-the-clock effort to help crews on the ground who are short-staffed.

Southwest told Insider that the corporate employees who volunteer for the shifts would be trained by crew schedulers in a “train the trainer” approach.

Crew schedulers are tasked with notifying crew members of their in-flight responsibilities and managing crew schedules.

The shifts would be in lieu of normal work duties and would count toward regular workdays, the memo said. It is unclear if the corporate employees were offered extra pay.

According to the flight-tracking site FlightAware, Southwest on Thursday accounted for 96% of all canceled domestic flights — 2,357 of the 2,448 flights that were scrapped.

Ryan Green, the company’s chief commercial officer, posted a video on social media apologizing for the dysfunction.

“My personal apology is the first step of making things right after many plans changed and experiences fell short of your expectations of us,” Green said in the video.

Southwest experienced a system-wide meltdown that caused flights to be cancelled.
Southwest experienced a systemwide meltdown that caused flights to be canceled.
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“We’re continuing to work to make this up to you, and you’ll continue to hear about that soon. But for now, we’re focused on restoring the reliability and level of customer experience we expect of ourselves, and you expect of us.”

Bob Jordan, Southwest’s CEO, gave several media interviews earlier this week echoing the apology.

“I’m truly sorry … we have some real work to do in making this right,” Jordan said in a video address late Tuesday.

The company has drawn scrutiny from the Biden administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are calling for an investigation.

“You’ve got a company here that’s got a lot of cleaning up to do,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. The cabinet member called the situation a “meltdown.”

Earlier this week, it was learned that a Southwest executive warned of a staffing crisis at Denver International Airport, one of the airline’s major bases of operation.

Chris Johnson, Southwest’s vice president of ground operations, circulated a memo to ramp workers on Dec. 21 declaring a “state of operational emergency” at its base in Denver after “an unusually high number” of employees didn’t show up for work, according to Bloomberg News.

Thousands of passengers were stranded at airports nationwide due to the crisis.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at airports nationwide due to the crisis.
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On Monday, the Dallas-based company finally cited weather and staffing issues at Denver International Airport for setting off a chain of events that led to massive, systemwide disruptions that began over the holiday weekend and extended into this week.

Frustrated passengers who were forced to camp out at airports for hours after having their travel plans ruined frantically sought to book seats on other airlines or rent cars to get to their destinations.


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