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Christmas meltdown ‘will never happen again’

Southwest Airlines Executive Vice President Bob Jordan speaks as he is interviewed by CNBC outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

With the peak Christmas travel season just days away, Southwest Airlines‘ CEO vowed that the carrier will not have a repeat of last year’s meltdown that stranded thousands of customers and cost the airline more than $1 billion.

“It will never happen again,” Bob Jordan said at an event Thursday at the Wings Club in New York.

Last year, Southwest canceled close to 17,000 flights over the crucial Christmas and New Year’s holiday period as it failed to recover from severe weather that gripped most of the country. Rival carriers were also affected but recovered more quickly.

Southwest struggled with staffing issues as storms left flight attendants and pilots out of position for their next flights, thousands of passenger bags piled up, and planes were behind on de-icing.

The carrier has been stocking up in de-icing and other winter-weather equipment to prepare for the season throughout the year. It has also upgraded technology.

“Winter will not be perfect,” Jordan said. But he added that the airline is prepared for the season, pointing to a quick recovery after heavy snowfall in October at its key airport in Denver.

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