PRNewswire-FirstCall DALLAS Nov. 4 :
Southwest Airlines today announced the consolidation of its nine
Reservations Centers into six. The move follows a steady decline in call
volume over the last few years as Customers have chosen other means for
booking their Southwest Airlines travel. Employees from its Dallas, Little
Rock, and Salt Lake City Centers, totaling approximately 1,900, will be
allowed to relocate to one of Southwest`s six other Reservations Centers.
The three Centers are scheduled to close on February 28, 2004.
“This was a difficult decision, but one that assures that those Employees
who choose to relocate can continue their careers with Southwest
Airlines,” said Jim Parker, Southwest`s Vice Chairman and CEO. “Our superb
Reservations Employees will be given the opportunity to transfer to one of
our six remaining Reservations Centers, which are located in Albuquerque,
Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, and San Antonio. Our desire is
to balance operating costs and our Employee resources with the way our
Customers choose to do business with us.”
Acceptance of online booking has steadily increased over the past several
years. The established trend means that Customer demand can no longer
support nine phone-based Centers, but it does not mean that Southwest has
changed its emphasis on People.
“The Employees at these three Centers have, like all of our great
Reservations Employees, contributed tremendously to Southwest Airlines`
well- earned reputation for Legendary Customer Service, and it is our
sincere hope that these Employees will continue to deliver Southwest`s
personalized Customer Service at one of our six other Centers,” said
Colleen Barrett, Southwest`s President and COO. “Our People are our
greatest asset. By putting them in the right places, we can continue to
have the most energetic, productive, and Customer Service focused
Employees in the airline industry.”
For those who do not choose to relocate, a generous support package—
including cash severance pay, flight privileges, medical coverage, and
guidance with a career transition—will be offered.
Southwest estimates the costs associated with consolidating its
Reservations operation into six Centers in first quarter 2004 to range
from $20 to $30 million. Thereafter, the potential annual operating costs
savings may exceed that amount.
Parker stressed, “this decision underscores our commitment to low fares,
low costs, and longterm job security and Profitsharing for our Employees.
Southwest has posted a profit for each quarter following the tragic events
of September 11, 2001, and did not furlough any Employees. Although the
travel business has changed, our desire to bring the Freedom to Fly to
America is greater than ever.”
Southwest is now in its 32nd year of operation, serving 59 airports in 58
cities in 30 states. Based in Dallas, Southwest currently operates nearly
2,800 flights a day with a fleet of 385 Boeing 737s with an average age of
nine years—one of the youngest pure jet fleets in the domestic airline