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Southwest's board has chosen to return billions to shareholders in stock buybacks while raising executive pay over investing in technology.

Southwest Pilots are pissed! Details of their open letter. Quote came from current Chairman and former CEO Gary Kelly: “Arguably, our shareholders have suffered for a long time when it comes to getting a return and our employees have been very well taken care of,” Kelly said. ( More...

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Matt West 54
In the whole article, the part that hits home the most is "In reality, though, people only have so many choices when it comes to air travel".

How true! We've lost TWA, PanAm, US Airways, Continental, Virgin America, Eastern, AirTran, Braniff, and the list goes on and on.

While some were due to bankruptcies, way too many were caused by mergers. As a result, we are stuck with 4 main airlines, all of which have their specialized regions (think the new AA in New England).

We were told that mergers wouldn't impact choices and service. None of us believed it, but, we don't have the $$$ to convince the decision makers.
jmilleratp 68
The United States Government is run by lobbyists much more so than it is by the American people.
Dustin Kempf 30
Somehow lobbying needs to be stopped, it's undermining we the people.
Rob Palmer 3
When I dwelled Washington two jobs offered great pay and wealth, lobbyist and manufacturer's representative. The lattter specializes in fronting for a specific group of product (like nuts or bolts), and is a super salesman ferreting out any possible consumer of his baby from the vast number of government agencies' headquarters. If he is a military school grad., he can run "all over" the Pentagon, e.g., with prior clearances. IBM for example, hired many Annapolis grads for this reason, people like Ross Perot. While these people can make purchasing for government more efficient, politicians who are intellectually deficient in purchasing should not be encouraged to run for office. Voters take notice; do not vote party lines!

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Robert Graham 21
You're aware that VP K. Harris isn't a Senator or a House Representative. She can only vote in the Senate to break a tie. Interesting that you would single her out in your comment.
Stan Wildeboer 11
Also interesting to note that his didn't single out such intellectual giants such as Paul Gosar, Louie Gohmert, Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert, just to name a few.
Jon Schwartz -8
I know but she was a cantor..have you ever heard her speak? She is just the poster child for a large group of people who do not know anything more than any of us(and in most cases a lot less0 yet have tremendous power to f things our economy not proof enough?
Tim Dyck 15
Maybe the solution is to stop voting for idiots and demand the parties put better choices on the ballots?
horace vickery 3
Now if we could only stop the idiots from voting
21voyageur 8
And lobbyists are neutral educators to the congressman or senator? Please.
Jon Schwartz -5
hell no they are not but ion my business, this morons have no idea what it takes to do what I do in Southern AZ yet have tremendous power too f everything up which they do routinely.....someone has got to educate them,...these people are idiots.,....again, if our government wasn't so big and out of control, a lot of thugs wouldn't matter but people keep voting to regulate and tax everything in the name of equality and fairness which only increases the power of government....government is rent seeker like industry instead of a referee.....but people who don't understand teh corruption and think you can regulate it are the problem...
James Eaton 3
the implication is that this type of governing doesn't work? Seems to be the case but then the other agencies that could be involved - anti-competition, FAA, etc. don't appear to be the least concerned.
Perhaps a "We, the People" lobby group should be established?
Mike Dryden 2
You get that every four years when you get to vote. The problem you have is that rather than vote for the 'best' candidate, people vote for party they can't stand the least, no matter what idiot said party puts up (who is likely one selected because they compliantly toe the party line; which applies to both sides of the isle).

Agencies lack of concern, or lack of funding? Can't have it both ways. Or perhaps they come under pressure to turn blind eyes to whatever the government of the day doesn't want too much focus on.

While I can't support Jon's political leanings, he's correct. Many pollies are idiots, and even the smart ones cannot be expected to know everything about everything they vote on (see comment re toeing party line). One who thinks they know it all would be extremely dangerous.
21voyageur 3
And lobbyists are neutral educators to the congressman or senator? Please.
Jon Schwartz -5
who said that?? Yet you deny that congressmen are ignorant of most things...who is suppose to educate them yet they have enormous power to screw everything up with their ignorance..
I read somewhere that the actual list is over 200 airlines long.
jmilleratp 6
Quantity over quality.
M Steinke 19
What do you expect? These are the natural consequences of (1) 30+ years of MBA schools stressing short-term 'shareholder value' above all else and (2) company leaders realizing that it's much easier, faster and cheaper for them to increase shareholder value through stock buy-backs than through the kinds of operational improvements that grow top line revenue and profit margins, which can then be used to fund both infrastructure improvements and dividends to shareholders. But what do I know?
James Patterson 9
Well, that's pretty scathing. And true. When the people running things start thinking that the shareholders are their customers instead of the people who buy their products or services (bleep) happens.
Jesse Carroll 9
Somebody should have CLONED "HERB"
Mike Dryden 7
You can change 'Southwest' to 'Boeing' and 'technology' to 'development of a 737 replacement' and it all sounds horribly familiar.

That hasn't gone well.

Returning billions to shareholders in stock buybacks? Let me translate. 'Used company money to prop up the share price, which is almost certainly a contributor to the c-suite bonuses.'
Bruce Johnson 6
Profits drive airlines, no matter type of airline or what they say.

Cost cutting may have lead to the software failures, but if the airlines really wanted to, they would fix their software.

I think that sometimes airlines blame software failures for actions they want to take that are unpopular. If their current flights are under-booked, thus unprofitable? Introduce a software failure, so flights have to be cancelled.

These problems, along with passenger baggage being a low priority, leads me to think that anyone who flies when they don't have to, are fools.
Ian Campbell 1
Bingo. I recall fondly the wasteful and carefree days of MetroJet. It worked because it was customer-focused. Ditto United before 9/11 ... I was an >all-domestic< 1K for five years. Now I happily embrace Amtrak and save my sedatives for any domestic air travel that I am forced to endure.
Ian Campbell 1
(and don't get me started on the joke that AA is ... and after their JFK incursion last week and their downplayed reaction? Never again.)
Richard Woollams 5
We need a rule that provides such severe penalties for this behavior that airlines would devote the appropriate resources to making sure it doesn't happen. Say the airline has to pay every passenger $10,000 per leg if their flight is cancelled due to staffing problems. Then if they cancel a flight with 100 pax, that's $1,000,000. That should provide sufficient incentive to fix it. Any CEO would understand that math.
wayne holder 2
only problem with that is your tickets would cost $100k each so you wouldn't be able to fly
hwh888 9
Well for sure they have the bankroll to reimburse every single passenger who spent Christmas 2022 in airport chairs, slept on floors or who were luck enough to find a hotel room.
Adigun Samuel 8
Since 2010, Southwest has returned more than $12.9 billion to Shareholders through share repurchases and dividends, through March 31, 2020.
Lane Shuler 4
Greed over human safety. Southwest will see its demise sooner rather than later.
Gregg Bender 4
This is what happens when the bean counters and vulture capitalists take over a company. Wring it dry and leave the husk in bankruptcy for the employees. Old, old story.
Gerard Kelly 2
Just what Carl I-con did to TWA ...
Ellen Fockler 7
So the Board has chosen shareholders AND executives' pocketbooks over customer safety and satisfaction ? Even after all the pandemic support the airline received and squandered? I flew Southwest whenever possible, but will consistently avoid it from now on. I'm sure I'm not alone.
Paul Ipolito 3
Great timing! Just in case anyone whose luggage will never be returned was considering ever getting on a Southwest flight again. Clueless, tone-deaf and just plain stupid. And of course, this can and will happen at any of the other airlines.
Yves Behrens 3
Another company run by crooks and lobbyists ...agree. I stop flyign this airline
Eric Weis 3
The corporate roll up movement has empowered and enriched Wall Street. Air travel is clearly worse now than 10, 20 or 30 years ago. America needs to spur competition, not encourage consolidation. It is a problem that is bigger than the air industry, but we all feel the pain when we try to fly anywhere these days.
k1121j 7
is this any surprise to anyone... its the one of the cons of Capitalisms... now a days people see less interested in growing the business and just growing profits even if it runs the business in to the ground..
So, you do NOT have a 401k or any stock investments, right? If you do...well, you might just be a hypocrite.
Jim Allen 5
That’s my dilemma. On one side, it costs me. On that other, I profit from it. But my small gains are way outweighed by the large investment houses. However- I’d rather they just run the business based on its own needs to grow a going concern and not worry so damn much about the street.
chugheset 2
Growing profits IS growing the business. In a capitalistic society people vote with their wallets. The trick is finding the balance.
21voyageur 1
Finding that "trick" is very elusive. Ask Boeing. Ask Tesla.
N107Sugar 3
What would Herb think of his creation becoming what it is today? SWA over expanded and lost its way. Putting shareholder happiness over employees is a good way to destroy your product.
btweston 3
Your “free market” at work.
jmilleratp 19
Deregulation was perfectly fine. It's all about whether regulators should have always signed off on each and every merger based upon all the positives the airlines' lobbyists, lawyers and public relations told them about. The public should be heard, but their voices always come in second to those who have the money and the power.
Mathew Thieneman 4
John Adams warned us all about the dangers of an unregulated Free Market in The Wealth of Nations, but we twisted what he said into "surely capitalists will do the right thing" which is against the very definition of what they are.
Atanu Dey 3
This John Adams reminds me of Adam Smith whose book "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nation" was published in 1776.
As a business owner I almost always do the right long as it benefits me. Period.
godutch 15
Your suggestion? You DO realize that ANY OTHER 'market' has the same issues...those at the top getting all the benefits. This is ESPECIALLY true for socialism and communism. There will always be aholes at the top trying to put the boot on citizen's necks.
Jon Schwartz 5
the government does better?? "FAA says 'unintentionally deleted files' led to NOTAM system outage". At least you can sound like Karl Marx and attack freedom if a private company screws up but when the government screws up, you demand more of it!!!
Gene Joy -1
What's all this reference to Marx? Don't you understand we have been living under a form of communism since taxes began? We have been capitalistic communists since before you were born. The capital C makes the difference. Too many refer to the Union of Soviet Socialist forgetting that the last word makes them Republic ans.
Jon Schwartz 4
you don't understand Marx obviously.....A socialist is someone who has read Lenin and Marx. An anti-socialist is someone who understands Lenin and Marx.”
— Ronald Reagan
Roger Curtiss 1
I have to admit to being torn on this one. While Southwest has shown a dire need to update its technology, as a stockholder I do like to see my shares increase in value. However, such a short sighted reach to us stockholders while deferring needed upgrades could prove to set the scene for future profit dips which will negatively impact share price in a much more substantial way.
Jaime Terrassa 1
why them how about the people that were stranded.
WendyCho 1
This is very sad.
Ruby Lisa Butler 1
Yet again we see corporate America choosing to inflate corporate salaries for a company that is obviously not protecting customer care and service. Also allowing company needed upgrade to be ignored. Shameful greed.
chugheset 1
The pilots ask, ""How did we get here? and proceed to solely blame management. I don't know but didn't we just suffer through two years of government imposed lockdowns, mandatory vaccine policies and a nationwide economic collapse? As such, any large business that made it through is bound to have a few missteps. If the shareholders aren't happy, you lose access to capital and then you aren't buying anything (the least of which is technology upgrades). Just sayin'...
paul gilpin 1
there is another company who chose this path.
the author could have saved a lot of bandwith by just typing

Jon Schwartz -9
I am always skeptical of articles which spew the tenets off Karl Marx/Joe Biden..maybe it's true , maybe it's not but do the authors really know what went on that boardroom and what the priorities were/are??? I have been on both sides of this and most the time the press takes a leftist bent as it is easier to make a victim than to get to the core root of a problem and solve it...kinda like what's going on in the country in general.....I will really go out on a limb with speculation but judging from decisions I make in my field, 9 times out of 10, some government regulation or tax has created a perverse incentive......
Robert Graham 10
I'm skeptical of comments with purely political beliefs.
Jon Schwartz -3
is this article not political? You do not understand the American left at all then.,...that is very dangerous....
Eric Weis 3
Mentioning Biden and Marx in the same sentence is a hoot. My degree is in economics. Want to learn about Marx? Please don’t do it in this forum. Let’s Keep the discussion focused on flying and the performance of Southwest and other carriers.
Adi Rabadi -5
You are watching trickle down economics at work.... ohh wait-
Jim Allen 4
You do realize of course that trickle down economics is symbolically pissing on those who are beneath you on the economic ladder. A rising tide may lift all boats but it lifts a yacht a lot higher.
Atanu Dey 1
I know that this is a aviation related site, not economics. That said, let me put it this way:

Tell me that you don't know what economics is without telling me that you don't know what economics is.

"Trickle down economics yada yada ..."
wayne holder 1 that like saying: I don't know what we know but I do know what we don't know
Ron Huckins -2


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