Press "Enter" to skip to content

The main issue facing Southwest? Staffing.

When things go wrong, there’s almost never just one explanation. Southwest Airlines has canceled more than 13,000 flights, leaving holiday travelers stranded. If I had to pick only one factor — one hole in the cheese — it would be staffing. It’s probably the one problem that made all the others worse. In February 2020, Southwest employed 62,436 people; 18 months later, that number had fallen to 54,512.

It takes time to integrate a workforce shift of this size at an airline like Southwest. The company’s point-to-point operational model and short turnaround times created unique challenges.