After suffering setbacks and delays from the COVID-19, Southwest Airlines will finally proceed with their pilot expansion according to a Dallas Morning News article from February 17 which reports,
“Southwest is resuming construction on 127,588 square feet of space in its Leadership Education and Aircrew Development Center that will include an eight-bay flight training center for simulators, classrooms, support rooms and other infrastructure, according to a permit filed with the state.
At Southwest, the project is part of the LEAD building expansion the company started in October 2019 when it planned to construct a three-story, 414,000-square-foot space that would expand its ability to hire pilots. While the outer shell of the building was completed, about a third of the interior space was left unfinished.
The project is estimated to cost about $13 million.
“While we’ve expanded the building, the build-out of many of the floors inside was put on hold at the beginning of COVID,” Landson said. “Now that air travel demand is returning, we’re moving forward with the finishing of the interior spaces, which will add space for our new hire training classes.”
Aside from construction and development, the airline will also be focusing on personnel after its personnel suffered from the pandemic despite help from the government according to a Airways Magazine article from February 22. They say,
“The airline is in need of up to 8,000 more personnel as it strives to recover from the previous two years of air travel slowdown. Airlines, in particular, are in severe need of new pilots, and regional carriers are investing extensively in training academies and incentives for young pilots.
Adding insult to injury, airlines will also be hit by a surge of retiring pilots who are required by federal regulations to leave their jobs at the age of 65
Despite US$66bn in federal payroll support to keep staff employed and the industry positions filled, workforce dwindled during the epidemic due to buyouts and voluntary retirements, dropping from 62,000 employees in February 2020 to less than 56,000 at the end of 2021, According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
Now the airline is scrambling to rehire personnel, especially because the global pandemic has put a strain on its ability to operate during spikes in case counts.”
The entire project and expansion of Southwest Airlines including the rehiring of personnel is expected to be fulfilled by 2024.