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Southwest Airlines Makes Moves Customers May Question

The airline is still not out of the woods after a holiday weekend that left thousands of travelers stranded.

While two weeks can be a long time both in the world of stocks and general news cycle, it is not nearly enough for those affected to forget the chaos that left tens of thousands stranded at airports across the country.

On the weekend of Dec. 24-25, concurrent snowstorms and weather advisories wreaked chaos on multiple airports across the country. Seattle-Tacoma and Chicago's O'Hare saw particularly high rates of delays with nearly 50% of all flights canceled while the smaller Buffalo Niagara International Airport shut down entirely for 24 hours due to snow that at one point surpassed 50 inches.

But while the weather eventually cleared and most airlines got stranded passengers to where they needed to go by Monday, Southwest Airliness  (LUV) - Get Free Report was still knee-deep in travel chaos due to what the company blamed on staff shortages and computer systems that have not been kept up-to-date. 

Southwest still had more than 60% of its flights across the country cancelled on Dec. 27. This then prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a statement saying that it will start looking into the "unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of lack of prompt customer service."

Southwest Airlines Lead JS 102122

After Holiday Airport Chaos, Five Promotions

Southwest later issued a regulatory filing saying that the lack of preparedness for that weekend will cost the airline $825 million in losses. In the last month, Southwest shares also fell by nearly 8%.

But even amid the losses and as some passengers still wait to be reunited with the luggage they were separated from two weeks ago, Southwest announced a series of major executive promotions.

Current VP Network Planning Adam Decaire is being promoted to senior vice president of Network Planning and Network Operations Control. Decaire started working at Southwest in 1996 as a ramp agent and quickly advanced in the department responsible for planning the airline's routes and schedules.

Tony Roach has been promoted from vice president of Customer Experience & Engagement to senior vice president of Marketing & Customer Experience while current vice president of Culture Whitney Eichinger will receive the title of senior vice president of Culture & Communications.

Associate General Counsel Jeff Novota has been promoted to vice president Legal-Corporate & Transactions. This puts him in charge of Southwest's corporate governance, securities and compliance matters and places him one rung higher in Southwest's legal team.

What Is Going On With Southwest In 2023

Dave Harvey, who as vice president of Southwest Business was responsible for getting more travelers to use Southwest, has also been promoted to vice president and chief sales officer. 

"I would like to congratulate and thank Adam, Tony, Whitney, Jeff, and Dave for taking on these additional responsibilities at such a crucial time for our beloved company," Southwest Airlines President & CEO Bob Jordan said in a statement on the promotions.

Southwest has not announced any layoffs or major executive departures so the move is more of a reshuffling and giving workers bigger titles. With the exception of Novota, all of the people who have been promoted have been working at Southwest for more than 20 years.

But despite the enthusiasm the airline has over the news, Southwest will have a lot of work to do before it can "look into the future" after what happened over Christmas weekend.

Also today, the Deptartment of Transportation announced that it was forwarding the "thousands" of complaints that it received about the airline directly to Southwest and requiring them to "provide substantive responses" in the next two months.