Southwest Airlines today made an announcement stating the onset of an “Operational Emergency” during which the company canceled and grounded a large number of potential flights. This might have dawned as a surprise for the travelers and the general public. However, this was long coming especially when there has been an alarm blaring over the security over the safety issues for 6 whole years. Issues raised by the AMFA or Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association stated that this so-called emergency state was prevalent from quite some time. The mechanics belonging to the union mention that they have continually been raising such safety concerns from the year 2015.
This week’s emergency requires Southwest Airlines to pull away 40+ aircraft from its line of 750 aircraft at 4 different locations. This state of emergency was declared post negotiations between this airline and the union. However, this emergency was also paired with the CBS investigation for which a news outlet had interviewed 26 mechanics for airline safety at American Airlines as well as Southwest. All of them shared the anecdotes about being under pressure from reporting the potential problems related to safety by the management.
To be specific, the mechanics were told by the management of the airline to overlook the safety issues which led to protest by the association. In response to this protest, the mechanics were threatened and intimidated with tactics by the supervisors to whom they reported the safety concerns. This was all for getting the aircraft back in business by the management. Their claims were backed by the whistleblower complaints of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The negotiations being carried out between the Southwest and the Union culminated during the week’s PR mess for this company. For its public statements, this airline attempted to bring down the union that currently represents around 2700 mechanics working for the Boeing 737 aircraft. The statement mentioned that there were some unusually high instances of delays, cancellations, and out-of-service planes as listed by the union. Mike Van de Ven, the COO for Southwest Airlines stated that the union is actually a disruptive conglomerate. He also linked this emergency with the recent negotiations being held amid the Airlines authorities and the union.
In his statement, he mentioned that AMFA comes with a history for work disruptions with Southwest currently having 2 lawsuits pending against this union. On behalf of the airline, the COO apologized to the customers stating that they strongly condemn the inconvenience caused due to the disruption.