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Southwest Airlines Resumes Ticket Sales, Prepares to Restart Regular Flights Friday

        Southwest Airlines<span class="company-name-type"> Ltd.</span>

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  Executives said the airline was preparing to lift ticket sales restrictions, restructure crew schedules, shuttle baggage and resume full flight schedules on Friday.</p><div> <p>Southwest Airlines has canceled more than 15,000 flights in the past week, according to FlightAware. By Thursday morning, the airline had scrubbed 39 flights scheduled for Friday.

  Southwest management said on Wednesday night that downsizing its workforce had helped. Operations were stable and the airline was ready to get back on its feet, they said.

  "I think we've turned a corner on what we're running," CEO Bob Jordan said in an internal video. I think it's great progress," he said.

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  <p>Union leaders representing Southwest Airlines pilots, flight attendants and other workers have blamed years of lack of investment in technology for many of the issues. Southwest Airlines is also facing intense scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers who said they are closely monitoring the airline's response to the crisis.

  Management acknowledges the need to upgrade ill-suited platforms, such as the SkySolver system it used to reschedule crews during chaos and was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the weekend's chaos. 

  Their more pressing task this week was to get the airline back together. It's all about making sure pilots and flight attendants are where they need to be, reuniting lost bags with their owners, and making sure the plane is coordinated and ready to depart.

  A Southwest Airlines executive said ticket sales have resumed after the airline restricted bookings for the remainder of its flights for most of this week. I wanted to secure a seat where I needed it.

  “It looks like the pieces are in place on the crew side so that everyone is covered by Friday morning,” he said. To get to that point, Southwest sought out volunteers to help handle the high volume of tasks to amend the schedules of its pilots and flight attendants. 

  <h6>Luggage stuck in Southwest Airlines cancellation fiasco</h6>

  During the chaos, the airline's flight attendant schedulers had to revert to manually assigning pilots and flight attendants to flights because their automated software couldn't keep up with the volume of changes. Despite the shortened schedule, the group was overwhelmed with the amount of work left, Watterson said in an update this week.

  Former flight attendant schedulers who worked in other areas of the business stepped in to triage inbound calls, according to a Wednesday memo from Southwest Airlines vice president of flight operations Lee Kinebrew and vice president of crew scheduling Brendan Conlon. Another group of employees had been trained to support the overwhelmed scheduler.

  "We have returned to normal operations with crew scheduling, which is a key point in our recovery," Watterson said Wednesday.  "We are currently focused on how to get back to the original schedule," he said, adding that the airline will resume some flights as it staffs.

  Southwest ground operations staff scanned thousands of missing bags to find out where they ended up. Kinebrew and Conlon wrote that the airline has set up a new call center to investigate lost items and update customers.The final step was coordinating with FedEx<span class="company-name-type"> Ltd.</span>

  and other delivery companies will truck the bags between airports, easing the strain on the airline's flights for the rest of the week, they wrote.

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      Southwest Airlines has canceled 11,000 flights since December 22nd. This is because customers have arrived at their destination and are having trouble finding their lost luggage. The airline said the shortened schedule would extend through at least Thursday. Photo: Albuquerque Journal/Zuma Press

  Running on a smaller schedule created some new technical challenges, executives said. Airplanes cannot be parked for long periods of time before short- or long-term storage is required, so airlines must rotate their fleets to avoid long periods of idleness on short schedules. did. Maintenance personnel had to travel to another location to check on planes that weren't in their usual location, Kurt Kinder, his vice president of maintenance operations, wrote to employees Wednesday.

  Jordan said Wednesday that he remains focused on fixing the underlying issues that caused this week's disruption.

  "If people worry about who's to blame, I'm to blame," Jordan said.  “We will be a better airline from now on.”

  Write to Alison Sider at [email protected].

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