AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — After its “operational mess” left more than two million people stranded across the country, and led to a $350 million loss, Southwest Airlines is implementing several key changes and tweaks to improve its service and performance times.

Southwest Airlines President and CEO Bob Jordan broke down the issues that caused the operational disruption at the end of 2022.

“First, it all started with the effects of Winter Storm Elliot, and what began as a weather-related event across our system. The severity of the weather conditions were more sudden and more severe than predicted, and therefore had a greater impact on our station are two of our largest airports Denver, and Chicago Midway,” Jordan said.

In a conference call with investors, Jordan said Southwest has about 25% of their crews are based out of Denver, which is one of its focus cities out of Amarillo, and Chicago Midway.

He said part of the plan is improving winter operations and airport infrastructure.

He also laid out several upgrades made to its crew planning software to avoid the other part of the disruption equation, crew scheduling.

“We’ve already upgraded our sky solver crew optimization software, as you might recall, the volume and pace of close-in cancellations. And we just had waves and waves of them revealed a functional gap and our crew optimization software’s ability to dynamically solve past flight cancellations. In conjunction with upcoming flight cancellations,” he explained.

Jordan said the disruption was a brutal reminder that planned modernizations of its infrastructure needed to happen sooner.

“I’d already acknowledged, we need a five-year plan to modernize the operations processes and tools, and some technology. And all of those things would have been extremely helpful in his ops disruptions. So rather than that’s an ‘aha’, it to me, it almost validated that we’re on the right path, because we it validated our need to modernize,” he explained.

Jordan says the target completion date for all the upgrades is October 2023, just in time for winter operations.

Jordan emphasized even with the changes and improvements, Southwest has no plans to change or alter its business model.

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