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Two Southwest Airlines unions say CEO should be replaced

Southwest Airlines pilots picketed outside of Dallas Love Field in February. The pilots have worked without a new contract since 2012.
Southwest Airlines pilots picketed outside of Dallas Love Field in February. The pilots have worked without a new contract since 2012. Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines’ pilots union says chief executive Gary Kelly and other top executives at the Dallas-based airline need to be replaced.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association said its board voted 20-0 expressing “no confidence” in Kelly, two weeks after the airline suffered a computer outage that led to thousands of canceled flights and stranded passengers.

“As tenured employees and frontline leaders of this company, we can no longer sit idly by and watch poor decision after poor decision deeply affect our customers and Southwest Airlines,” said SWAPA president Jon Weaks. “We encourage, effective immediately, their replacement in order to secure a more stable, sustainable, and profitable future for our company, our customers, and employees.”

Weaks said senior executives have prioritized stock performance and have not invested in an outdated technology infrastructure. He noted those decisions led to operational problems at Chicago Midway in January 2014 and the recent router failure two weeks ago.

“As Southwest Airlines continues down this path as one of the ‘Big Four’ domestic carriers and expands its operational footprint, SWAPA believes it is time for new leadership in order to propel this company forward,” Weaks said.

Southwest’s pilots have been in negotiations for a new contract with the carrier since 2012. Last year, the pilots rejected a proposed four-year contract that included pay raises totaling 17.6 percent but created subsets for pilots who flew international and Boeing 737-MAX flights.

Southwest Airlines pilots picket outside Dallas Love Field to raise awareness about their contract negotiations. (February 3, 2016) Video by Andrea Ahles

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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