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Southwest covered up signs of outdated technology that led to December outages, class action says

Southwest Airlines deliberately covered up problems with its computer systems that led to the cancellation of thousands of flights over the holiday season, shareholders said in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

The class-action lawsuit alleges that since 2020, Southwest has failed to mention the financial and operational risks associated with outdated technology several times since 2020.

In one of Southwest’s reports to shareholders in 2020, the company cited the pandemic, weather issues and other external circumstances as reasons why the company’s financial success could fluctuate.

But this report and future reports did not fully detail any of Southwest’s computer-aided planning problems, the lawsuit says.

All of these perceived shortcomings came to a head with more than 10,000 flights canceled during the holiday season. The suit points to Sky Solver’s crew planning system as the main cause of widespread delays.

Southwest representatives declined to comment, but Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News that he disputed the claims.

“There was a bit of a misconception that we have unique or archaic instruments or something, and we don’t have them,” Jordan said on Thursday. handles better.”

The lawsuit also criticized the airline’s use of a point-to-point system as opposed to the hub system used by airlines such as Delta Airlines. Experts say that in severe weather conditions, such as last month’s winter storm, the absence of a central hub for the return of flight crews could exacerbate disruptions.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Southwest shares fell from a closing price of $36.09 on Dec. 23 to $32.19 on Dec. 28, a drop of more than 12%. Investors are seeking damages for what they believe is negligence on the part of the company.

Southwest was criticized by customers and government agencies for its handling of the December crisis.

In a Dec. 29 letter to Southwest CEO Bob Jordan, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg demanded that the company be held responsible for disruptions over the holidays and inconvenience to customers.

Buttigieg asked the airline to reimburse passengers for food, lodging and transportation, asking for “immediate communication of Southwest’s efforts to address customers it has offended.”

The airline said in a January 3 press release that it would be working on reimbursing these costs, as well as returning baggage and processing refunds.

Any advice? Write to Toluvani Osibamowo at [email protected]

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