How penny-pinching and outdated software kept Southwest planes on the ground

SkySolver software keeps tabs on Southwest’s crew scheduling. But it’s widely believed to be outdated.

By Shelly BrisbinJanuary 5, 2023 2:28 pm,

The massive breakdown that stranded Southwest Airlines passengers over the holidays did not happen exclusively because of weather or labor shortages, but because of problems with technology – including the software that makes running the company’s vast network possible.

Our partners at KERA News reported earlier this week on Southwest’s long-term focus on keeping costs down. But what was it about the company’s technology decisions that kept planes on the ground and passengers huddled in far-flung airports? Tech expert Omar Gallaga says the SkySolver software Southwest uses to manage crew scheduling has been in use for many years.

Highlights from this segment:

– SkySolver is an off-the-shelf application with customization included for Southwest. It’s been in use for decades, as has software used by many other airlines.

– Southwest’s “point-to-point” network structure made things worse for SkySolver over the holidays.

– Implementing improved software could take years, especially if airlines like Southwest continue to use proprietary software.

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