More than 1,300 Southwest Airlines pilots stood on a picket line Tuesday in Dallas, sounding off about what they say are unfair working conditions and inadequate pay, according to the pilots’ union.
“The Pilots of Southwest have been in contract negotiations with the company for more two years with no meaningful movement toward a new contract,” the union said in a statement to NBC News, adding that “pilot fatigue rates have reached an all-time high.”
Pilots from across the commercial airline industry have called attention to chronic staffing shortages that have forced carriers to either delay or cancel many flights.
Southwest Airlines told NBC News in a statement that it “respects the rights of our Employees to express their opinions, and we do not anticipate any disruption in service as a result of this single demonstration.”
“For 51 years, we’ve maintained a legendary Southwest Culture that honors our valued Employees,” the carrier said.
Staffing shortages have been compounded by two converging forces: an overwhelming surge in travel thanks to the global easing of pandemic restrictions, and the summer getaway season. The Transportation Security Administration has said it is processing its highest number of passenger screenings since 2019, to the tune of more than 2.4 million daily travelers, as of June 20.
The additional traffic, plus lower numbers of pilots and flight crews, have translated to serious headaches for travelers. But some of the pilots are pointing fingers at their own airlines.