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Spirit Airlines CEO on what caused the carrier’s crash

People are waiting in line at a Spirit Airlines bank, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport, on August 5, 2021 in Houston, Texas.

Brandon Bell | Getty Images

Ted Christie, CEO of Ted Christie, said the causes of the massive cancellation of the Spirit Airlines flight that unleashed the summer holidays of tens of thousands of customers this week.

A combination of flight delays throughout July, staff shortages, technological problems and an increase in travel that has taken most airline executives off, culminating in more than 1,700 flights canceled since Sunday, some days counting. more than half of Spirit’s calendar.

And the troubles are not over for the travelers. Christie said the carrier will cancel additional flights over the next few days to recover its condition.

“There are definitely a lot of angry people,” he told reporters Thursday night. “Now, all I can say is that we are very sorry for what happened.”

The chaos has infuriated customers stranded at airports and sparked furious messages online, presenting Christie with one of his biggest texts since he became CEO on New Year’s Eve 2019.

“This is a punch for everyone,” Christie said.

Chronic delays throughout July have been blown away by snow, leading to staff shortages as crews have shrunk, reaching the maximum time they could legally work each day, he said. It became dramatically worse over the weekend and in the days that followed.

“We can’t be ahead,” Christie said. He estimated that “tens or hundreds of thousands” of customers were affected by the Spirit’s disruptions and said it was too early to estimate the financial impact on the company.

On Thursday alone, 446 Spirit flights were canceled, 56% of their operations.

A sharp return in summer travel has created headaches for summer travelers as airlines and their contractors have experienced staff shortages associated with the usual disruptive summer storms.

Miramar, a Florida-based Spirit, has improved its reliability in recent years and in 2017, he turned to Walt Disney’s leadership and professional training subsidiary, the Disney Institute, to help improve the customer service. the customer.

“We’re going to do everything we can to earn the trust of our guests and the traveling public. We believe we can do that,” Christie said in the call Thursday. He said the airline gives affected customers refunds in numbers.

In retrospect, Spirit should have canceled more flights first to give it time to recalibrate, Christie said. While the airline has tried to keep flying to respond to a large number of customers, many of them have been flying for the first time since the pandemic began.

The airline forecast last month that it will see almost 11% more in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2019, a much larger rebound than most airlines.

Christie said he and other executives are looking at how to add more safety staff, faster responses to the operational workforce and better technology.

“We started to turn the corner and put our legs under us where we could start rebuilding where we were before,” Christie said.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct a title.


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