Category Archives: Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines launches its Hawaii service

Southwest Airlines on March 17 operated its first scheduled flight to Hawaii from the Mainland. Flight WN 6808, a 5.5-hour nonstop flight from Oakland, arrived in Honolulu with the traditional water cannon salute and leis.

The new route is operated with its Boeing 737-800 ETOPS. The first flight was operated with Boeing 737-8H4 N8329B.

Another inaugural flight from Oakland to Kahului Airport (OGG), Maui will start on April 7.

In subsequent weeks, the carrier will inaugurate additional service from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) to Honolulu on May 5 and to Kahului on May 26.

Southwest will operate its first interisland service within Hawaii between Honolulu and Kahului, four times daily in each direction, beginning April 28, followed by service between Honolulu and Ellison Onizuka International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on Hawaii Island, four times daily in each direction, beginning May 12. The additional interisland service will make possible connecting service between Kona and both Oakland and San Jose.

All photos by Southwest Airlines.

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Southwest Airlines adds new nonstop routes

Southwest Airlines  Boeing 737-800 SSWL N8567Z (msn 36928) FLL (Bruce Drum). Image: 105006.

Southwest Airlines today announced several new nonstop flights linking cities across the United States as it extends its bookable flight schedule through Nov. 2, 2019.

New Daily Nonstop Routes Take Off

Effective August 10, 2019, Southwest will add weekend service between St. Louis and Salt Lake City. On October 2, 2019, this route will be offered with daily service between the two cities along with implementing twice-daily nonstop service between Baltimore/Washington and Newark*.

*Southwest previously served this route in March 2013.

Above Photo: First validation flight to Hawaii. Southwest Airlines.

New routes available on weekend days

Effective October 5, 2019, the carrier will add weekend service between Nashville and Buffalo, N.Y.; Sunday-only service between Houston (Hobby) and Amarillo; and Sunday-only service between Dallas Love Field and Cleveland.

Top Copyright Photo: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 SSWL N8567Z (msn 36928) FLL (Bruce Drum). Image: 105006.

Southwest aircraft slide show:

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Southwest Airlines’ statement on the grounding of 34 Boeing 737-8 MAX 8s

Southwest Airlines has issued this statement:

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8708Q (msn 42566) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945962.

Above Copyright Photo: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8708Q (msn 42566) LAX (Michael B. Ing). Image: 945962.

Southwest Airlines aircraft slide show:

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SWAPA’s position on the Boeing 737-8 MAX 8

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8726H (msn 42573) FLL (Andy Cripps). Image: 945527.

SWAPA, representing the pilots of Southwest Airlines, has this position on the Boeing 737-8 MAX 8, as stated by Jon Weaks, Union President:

As we continue to mourn the loss of life related to Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, media, political and public interest remain high and, at times, in a near frenzy. I would like to brief you on the most current factual information SWAPA has received.

Both the Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of ET302 have been recovered. Both of these recorders should be examined and read within the next week.

Also, today the FAA issued a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC). In it, the FAA said it “has dispatched personnel to support the investigative authorities in determining the circumstances of this event. All data will be closely examined during this investigation, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so.”

The FAA further said that teams from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as the accredited representative, and the FAA, as Technical Advisors, are supporting the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau.

The FAA acknowledged “external reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.” It is, however, important to note that there also have been reported eyewitness accounts that suggest this accident is not similar to the Lion Air crash.

Following the Lion Air Flight 610 accident, the FAA listed completed activities in support of continued operational safety of the MAX fleet:

Issued FAA emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51 on November 7, 2018 Validated that airplane maintenance and functional check instructions on Angle of Attack (AOA) vane replacement were adequate

Conducted simulator sessions to verify the Operational Procedures called out in FAA AD 2018- 23-51

Validated AOA vane bench check calibration procedures were adequate

Reviewed Boeing’s production processes related to the AOA vane and Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)

In addition, the FAA listed ongoing activities it is overseeing:

Boeing’s completion of the flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items. The FAA anticipates mandating these design changes by Airworthiness Directive no later than April 2019.
Design changes include:

MCAS Activation Enhancements MCAS AOA Signal Enhancements MCAS Maximum Command Limit

Boeing’s plans to update training requirements and flight crew manuals to go with the MCAS design change include:

Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) and Flight Crew Operations Manual (FCOM) Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) – notes in Speed Trim Fail checklist

Airplane Maintenance Manual (AMM) Interactive Fault Isolation Manual (iFIM) Boeing has proposed Level A training impacts

I have been in numerous conversations with Southwest Vice President of Flight Operations Captain Alan Kasher, who informed me that the MAX aircraft has 17,000 recordable parameters and Southwest has compiled and analyzed a tremendous amount of data from more than 41,000 flights operated by the 34 MAX aircraft on property, and the data supports Southwest’s continued confidence in the airworthiness and safety of the MAX.

I have also had conversations with TWU 556 President Lyn Montgomery, who represents Southwest Flight Attendants, AMFA National President Bret Oestreich, SWAPA Safety Committee and SWAPA Government Affairs Committee members, as well as leaders from other Pilot labor unions. I relayed to them that SWAPA is extremely confident that our entire fleet, including the MAX, is safe based on the facts, intelligence, data, and information we presently have. We fully support Southwest Airlines’ decision to continue flying the MAX and the FAA’s findings to date.

I will continue to put my family, friends, and loved ones on any Southwest flight and the main reason is you, the Pilots of SWAPA. We have lobbied hard for our training to continue to evolve and improve, and due to having the finest union Training and Standards Committee in the industry, that is
occurring.

We now have Extended Envelope Training (EET) in addition to our regular annual training and since SWAPA and others have brought awareness to the MCAS issue, we have additional resources to successfully deal with either a legitimate MCAS triggered event or a faulty triggered MCAS event.

SWAPA also has pushed hard for Angle of Attack (AOA) sensor displays to be put on all our aircraft and those are now being implemented into the fleet. All of these tools, in addition to SWAPA Pilots having the most experience on 737s in the industry, give me no pause that not only are our aircraft safe, but you are the safest 737 operators in the sky.

Let me also be very clear that SWAPA has not and will not hesitate to hold any organization or person accountable when the safety and or well-being of our passengers, our organization, our families, fellow Southwest employees or the traveling public are even remotely at risk. If we need to address additional factual information that may present itself in the future, we will do so forthwith and without hesitation to ensure the safety of all.

Leading Forward,

Jon

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX 8 N8726H (msn 42573) FLL (Andy Cripps). Image: 945527.

Southwest aircraft slide show:

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Southwest announces its first routes to Hawaii, the fare war begins

 

Southwest Airlines has today announced the carrier will begin service to Hawaii on March 17, 2019, with an inaugural flight from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) in Honolulu, Oahu, followed by an inaugural flight from Oakland to Kahului Airport (OGG), Maui on April 7.

In subsequent weeks, the carrier will inaugurate additional service from Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) to Honolulu on May 5 and to Kahului on May 26.

Southwest will operate its first interisland service within Hawaii between Honolulu and Kahului, four times daily in each direction, beginning April 28, followed by service between Honolulu and Ellison Onizuka International Airport at Keahole (KOA) on Hawaii Island, four times daily in each direction, beginning May 12. The additional interisland service will make possible connecting service between Kona and both Oakland and San Jose.

Additional service details, including plans for previously announced gateways of San Diego and Sacramento, and for Lihue, on Kauai, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fare available through 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on purchase-by dates specified above. Travel on these fares is valid only on certain days of week. Please see complete fare sale rules below.

RECAP | SOUTHWEST AIRLINES INITIAL PHASE OF SERVICE FOR HAWAII (chronologically):

  • Oakland to Honolulu begins once daily on March 17, 2019; Honolulu to Oakland begins once daily on March 18; the route will be flown twice daily in each direction as of March 24.
  • Oakland to Kahuluibegins once daily on April 7, 2019; Kahului to Oakland begins once daily on April 8; the route will be flown twice daily in each direction as of April 10.
  • Interisland service four times daily in each direction between Honolulu and Kahului begins April 28.
  • San Jose to Honolulu service begins May 5, once daily in each direction.
  • Interisland service four times daily in each direction between Honolulu and Kona begins May 12.
  • San Jose to Kahului service begins May 26, once daily in each direction.

SWAPA comments on state of operational emergency at Southwest Airlines

Captain Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, issued a communication to the nearly 10,000 pilots represented by the association. In his communication he provided additional context and perspective on the self-described “State of Operational Emergency” declared by the airline. In his communication, Captain Weaks reaffirmed the safety of the airline, the confidence the pilot union has in AMFA mechanics to keep our aircraft in airworthy condition, and the joint commitment by SWAPA Pilots and AMFA mechanics to always protect the passengers. SWAPA Pilots are responsible for flying safely from point A to point B or not at all.

To follow are excerpts from that communication:

“The last few weeks have highlighted how poorly upper management at Southwest Airlines is performing, how it truly views labor, how ineffective its communication and execution of our daily operation are, and how everyone at OUR airline should be concerned.

Last week, Southwest declared a State of Operational Emergency (SOE), a veiled attempt designed to intimidate our mechanics that has instead caused unnecessary fear and safety concerns in our passengers and the flying public. When the nation saw Southwest blaming an employee group wedded to the safety of our aircraft for our maintenance issues, the questions and concerns intensified. What followed this declaration is perhaps the most egregious display by management of tribalizing and scapegoating our employees in the history of our Company.

AMFA has been vocal about not having enough parts being on hand, and at times had no choice but to legally use or “rob” parts from other aircraft in order to meet operational demands. What should be obvious to upper management is that, by failing to stock enough parts, relying on borrowing parts from other aircraft and banking on just-in-time inventory, the Company is in no way helping, but only furthering, delays.”

On the evening of February 22, Southwest Chief Legal Counsel, Mr. Mark Shaw, sent a letter to AMFA leadership alleging “unlawful concerted action” by our mechanics. Mr. Shaw cites no evidence of this supposed unlawful action. His only “fact” was that his “data analysis confirms that naturally-occurring maintenance or other events could not statistically produce these extremely high Unscheduled Aircraft Downtime (UAD) hours over the course of the past week.” What is glaringly missing from Mr. Shaw’saccusation is the fact that the Company has not stated that there has been any invalid, false, or fabricated safety write ups. Never.

“Mr. Shaw speaks from both sides of his mouth. He claims that “safety is paramount at Southwest and we fully respect each mechanic’s right and obligation to identify legitimate safety issues.” But does he? On the one hand, management wants our mechanics to make the right call, but on the other hand, they are upset that our mechanics are trying to do the right thing while under the microscope by the FAA. The cognitive dissonance is deafening!

The Company avoids the glaring fact that Southwest is still under increased FAA and DOT scrutiny with several ongoing investigations including Performance Weight and Balance (PWB), training issues, Flight 1380, Flight 3472, the FAA’s Certificate Management Office (CMO) for Southwest being investigated by the DOT’s Inspector General, etc. In an investigation report from the FAA in 2017, which is now public, the FAA said, “There seems to be a lack of an environment of trust, effective communication, and the willingness for employees to share mistakes, concerns, or failures without the fear of threats or reprisal. This ultimately leads to a degraded level of safety that the Safety Management System (SMS) is trying to maintain at the highest possible level.

We have seen first-hand poor leadership abound in the conflicting communications between the COO and CEO. While Mr. Van de Ven was busy throwing our mechanics under the bus for the Company’s failings, on February 22, Mr. Kelly was busy praising them. In an update to employees, he wrote, “Our Mechanics are extraordinary. I am proud of them, and they have been especially heroic in getting aircraft returned to service over the last two weeks. They deserve all of our thanks.” Which one is it? Our mechanics cannot be simultaneously engaged in an illegal job action while also heroically getting aircraft returned to service over the last two weeks.

Today, Southwest Airlines outsources 80 percent of all aircraft maintenance. So how does our outsourcing compare to that of our competition? Compared to Southwest Airlines’ 80 percent outsourcing rate, United outsources 51 percent of its aircraft maintenance, Alaska outsources 49 percent, Delta outsources 43 percent, and American outsources only 33 percent. Spirit and Allegiant outsource approximately 20 percent, but their numbers may be skewed due to the fact that they lease most of their aircraft. And, all this is accomplished on top of already having the lowest mechanic to aircraft ratio in the industry. Southwest Airlines maintains a 3.3 AMTs to aircraft ratio. UAL, AA, and DL maintain a 12.0, 11.2, and 7.2 AMTs to aircraft ratio, respectively. The next closest to SWA is Alaska who still maintains a 4.3 ratio (due to Alaska’s Line Mx Only- Mx program).

If management is touting outsourcing maintenance as a critical element of future success, they should release data showing the maintenance reliability rates for each vendor compared to the reliability rates of our mechanics. These reliability rates should include how much work was initially done incorrectly, and how much work had to be re-done once the aircraft was put back into service. This data should be published
for past work and work in the future.

Let me be clear, our aircraft are safe, and a large part of that is because the men and women of AMFA continue to do their jobs in the face of increasing pressure, intimidation and scrutiny from Southwest management. They have our eternal gratitude for a job well done. SWAPA Pilots serve as the final line of defense and will never fly an aircraft unless it is safe to do so. Our families and friends fly on our aircraft, in addition to our valued passengers. We will protect them and the public at large and continue to always look for ways to improve safety. Their lives, our Company’s future and our livelihoods depend on it.

A to B safely or not at all.”

Southwest Airlines employees earn $544 million in 2018 profit sharing

Southwest Airlines has announced this week that it will share $544 million with its employees through the company’s profit sharing plan. This reward equals approximately 10.8 percent of each eligible Employee’s eligible compensation.

This is Southwest’s 45th consecutive profit sharing award, starting with the first profit sharing payout in 1974. The company will pay part of the award to the retirement plan and part in cash. Most employees will receive 10 percent of eligible compensation as a contribution to the profit sharing plan and the remainder in cash, both of which will be paid on March 15, 2019. Some employees will receive the entire profit sharing award as a contribution to their retirement plan accounts as specified in their collective bargaining agreement.

The 2018 profit sharing award is the third highest in company history.

Above Photo: Southwest Airlines. PAWsome Passengers were handled with care as they arrived to Baltimore/Washington.