Southwest pilots authorize strike ahead of summer travel

Members of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), representing more than 10,000 of the airline’s pilots, have voted in favor of authorizing a potential strike after three years of contract negotiations, ahead of the busy summer travel period. After a week and a half, the voting was concluded with 98% of members participating and 99% of those voting agreeing to authorize a strike.

SWAPA President Casey Murray strongly criticized the airline’s lack of leadership, and noted that the pilots were “tired of apologizing to our passengers on behalf of a company that refuses to place its priorities on its internal and external customers”. Murray went on to say that the pilots had “empowered” the Negotiating Committee Chair Captain Jody Reven to petition the National Mediation Board to release the pilots to self-help, in accordance with the Railway Labor Act.

Murray urged customers to make arrangements to travel with other carriers to ensure their plans for the summer and fall are not disrupted. This comes in light of the December 2022 operational disasters, which forced Southwest Airlines to cancel roughly 16,700 flights over 10 days and cost the company up to $825 million, as well as an April system outage which caused 1,700 flights to be delayed.

In response to the vote, Southwest Airlines issued a statement assuring customers that the authorization vote would have “no impact on our scheduled operations” and that they were “staffed and prepared to welcome travelers for their summer travel plans.” Vice President of Labor Relations Adam Carlisle added that the result of the vote did not change the company’s commitment to the negotiation process.