Key Words: Southwest COO promises senators ‘lots of work and lots of expenditures’ to prevent another meltdown

by | Feb 9, 2023 | Stock Market

“ ‘There’s lots of work and lots of expenditures we expect to prevent this from happening again.’ ”

— Andrew Watterson, COO at Southwest Airlines

That line above came from Southwest Airlines Co.
Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson, who testified Thursday at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the company’s meltdown during the holiday season. Southwest canceled more than 16,700 flights from Dec. 21 through Dec. 31 as it struggled to recover from a major winter storm long after competitors had resumed normal operations.

The COO’s statement came after Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, asked him: “People want to know: Are these guys going to invest in the technology that will make this system operational, so this will never happen again?” Watterson said the cost of upgrades will “undoubtedly be in the millions and millions of dollars,” but the airline probably won’t know the exact price tag until next month. “We need to invest in technology, but also in our operational systems outside of technology, because the winter operations were too much for us,” the Southwest exec also said during Thursday’s hearing. “To be able to better handle the winter weather, we need more infrastructure at airports for de-icing. We need more de-icing trucks. We need new technology systems with de-icing. We need to weatherize our ground support equipment.” In a statement that he read before taking questions from senators, Watterson said: “Let me be clear: We messed up.” Southwest’s stock is down 4% over the past three months, while the S&P 500
has gained 10%. Now read: Southwest losses deeper than Wall Street’s dialed-down hopes

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