Southwest Airlines pilots are considering pickets on Thanksgiving and Christmas to protest extra shifts piled on with little notice

·2 min read
Southwest Airlines Pilot
Mike Stewart/AP
  • Southwest Airlines pilots' union is reportedly considering picketing on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • It is worried about increased schedules, a lack of hotels, and fatigue, as CNBC first reported.

  • Its president told CNBC that the group's pilots must often take on extra shifts with little notice.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The union representing Southwest Airlines' pilots is considering picketing over Thanksgiving and Christmas to bring attention to increased workloads, fatigue, and other concerns.

The board of directors of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) released a video on Wednesday saying it is thinking about holding informational pickets later this year. CNBC was first to report the news.

"Should Southwest Airlines continue its current trajectory, you can expect one or more pickets sometime in the fourth quarter," SWAPA President Casey Murray said in the video. "We are asking for you to stand with us and show the company that we are resolute in our insistence that they begin to address their immediate operational issues and accept SWAPA as a partner to resolve the chronic problems that cloud our airline's future."

Board members said in the video that they are concerned about several issues currently affecting Southwest pilots, including a lack of hotel accommodations and food, as well as "reassignment chaos" and "schedule insanity."

Read more: United, Delta, and American Airlines need pilots so badly, they're making it easier than ever for newbies to land top flying jobs

Murray told CNBC that Southwest pilots often have to take on extra shifts with little notice because of Southwest's flight schedule.

Southwest's vice president of flight operations, Bob Waltz, told Insider the airline and the industry more broadly have seen "a multitude of operational challenges" this summer.

"We have teams across the airline working diligently to adapt to the current environment and support our employees during this peak travel season, including efforts focused on providing support to our pilots," he said in a statement. "We routinely work with the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association on a variety of matters that affect our pilots, but we also have a responsibility to consider a number of factors before implementation of suggestions. We remain committed to listening to feedback and proactively working to address issues as we navigate the months ahead."

Earlier this week, Southwest told staff it would give them $300 bonuses to refer people to work at the company as it tries to bring on enough staff to keep up with rebounding travel demand. Many airlines are experiencing staffing shortages, which result in increased flight disruptions like cancellations and delays. Besides a staffing crunch, Southwest has also said it likely doesn't have enough planes to continue following its current business model in 2022 and 2023.

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