As a Southwest Airlines customer, yesterday I received an email update from CEO Gary Kelly about the company's now-grounded fleet of 34 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes.
While I suspect every other Southwest customer received the exact same email, it was nice to hear from the CEO. (The email I received from American Airlines about that company's 737 MAX aircraft was apparently sent from the corporate communications department -- it wasn't signed by anyone.)
The FAA issued its order to ground the Boeing MAX aircraft, with our knowledge and support. I recorded a video on this development, which you can watch here: https://t.co/mhYYaZYGSP. I apologize for the inconvenience this causes our Customers. Safety is always our top priority!-- Gary Kelly (@gary_kelly) March 14, 2019
The email followed an internal memo Kelly sent to the company's 60,000 employees. According to news reports, the memo to employees read in part:
Our experience with the MAX, along with the other U.S. operators, has been phenomenal. We've operated over 40,000 flights covering almost 90,000 hours. There is a ton of data collected, which we continuously monitor. In all our analysis since our first flight in 2017, nothing has presented any flight safety concerns. It has been a superb addition to our fleet.
As Kelly pointed out in his email to customers, Southwest -- which flies only Boeing 737 aircraft -- is working hard to minimize the inconvenience to passengers while keeping a laser-sharp focus on safety. Said Kelly:
Safety is our top priority. It always has been. It always must be. Our commitment to the Safety of our Employees and our Customers is unwavering and uncompromising... I realize this disruption may inconvenience our Customers during this busy spring travel season, and we will do everything in our power to mitigate the impact to our operation. For that, I offer my sincere apologies.
While I am glad the decision was made to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the United States (a decision some believe was long overdue), I am certain Boeing will do everything possible to get whatever the problem is fixed, and get these airplanes back in the air where they belong.