Tip Sheets

Southwest disruptions mirror global supply chain issues

Media Contact

Lindsey Knewstub

Over the long weekend, Southwest Airlines cancelled over 2,000 flights, causing major disruptions to travel plans for thousands of passengers.

Arthur Wheaton, an expert in airline industries at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, says while the problems at Southwest Airlines mirror the supply chain issues facing the globe, they have not handled the situation very well, reducing consumer trust.

Arthur Wheaton

Director of Labor Studies, ILR School

“The problems at Southwest Airlines mirror the many supply chain issues facing the globe today. The push for lean production and just in time delivery is not working in a global pandemic and border issues. The drive to reduce costs without redundant backup systems has caused issues with cars, computer chips, toilet paper, gasoline and many other common goods and services.

“Southwest has not handled the situation very well and using excuses to blame inadequate management safeguards reduces consumer trust.

“Hopefully Southwest will work with their unions and employees to the benefit of the customer and profitability. There are customer choices in purchasing plane tickets and the primary concern is getting to and returning from your trip. Once that is repeatedly threatened, customers can select a different airline to reduce anxiety and frustration. That hurts the company and its employees. Quality and service are important in hospitality and travel.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.