Last updated: 04:42 PM ET, Mon August 01 2016

Southwest Pilots Call for Airline's CEO, COO to Be Replaced

Airlines & Airports | Patrick Clarke | August 01, 2016

Southwest Pilots Call for Airline's CEO, COO to Be Replaced

Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

The hot seat just got warmer for Southwest Airlines' leadership. 

The Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) announced Monday that it has voted 20-0 by resolution a "Vote of No Confidence" in the Dallas-based carrier's CEO Gary Kelly and COO Mike Van de Ven, citing "years of operational deficiencies, unprecedented labor strife, and continued culture erosion at the company."

SWAPA is joined in sentiment by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), whose National Executive Council (NEC) also completed a vote of no confidence.

"As tenured employees and frontline leaders of this company, we can no longer sit idly by and watch poor decision after poor decision deeply affect our customers and Southwest Airlines," said SWAPA President Captain Jon Weaks in a statement. "We believe that a change is needed for the best interests of Southwest Airlines and the loyal customers we serve. Therefore, we encourage, effective immediately, their replacement in order to secure a more stable, sustainable, and profitable future for our company, our customers, and employees."

In his statement, Weaks argues that the airline's senior executives value "short-term stock performance" over their employees or even customer service.

The low-cost carrier earned a record profit of $820 million in the second quarter of 2016.

READ MORE: Southwest Continues to Plan Growth Against Investor Wishes

"There has been an inability to prioritize the expenditure of record-breaking revenues toward investments in critically outdated IT infrastructure and flight operations," added Weaks. 

"These decisions have directly lead to the operational failure at Midway Airport in January 2014, chaotic crew scheduling during the summers and holidays of 2014-2016, and our most recent 'meltdown' related to technological infrastructure this past month."

The "most recent meltdown" Weaks was referring to was late last month when a failed network router forced Southwest to cancel more than 2,000 flights over a four-day period.

Weaks concluded his statement by calling for big changes. 

"As Southwest Airlines continues down this path as one of the 'Big Four' domestic carriers and expands its operational footprint, SWAPA believes it is time for new leadership in order to propel this company forward."


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