Southwest Airlines CEO says all but two planes back in service
A week after a hole ripped open in the fuselage of one of his planes, Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary C. Kelly said Friday that all but two inspected planes will be back in the air by Saturday.
During a panel discussion at a gathering of financial journalists in Dallas, Kelly said Southwest has inspected and returned to service 78 planes but is still making repairs on two Boeing 737s, including the plane with the damaged fuselage.
Southwest canceled more than 600 flights last weekend after a flight from Phoenix to Sacramento suffered a rapid loss of cabin pressure when a hole tore open on the top of the fuselage.
"We are very pleased no one was injured," Kelly said.
An FAA official said an investigation into the cause of the incident has yet to be completed.
Kelly also said he expects Southwest will continue to order planes from Boeing Co., the manufacturer of the 737-300 that was damaged during the flight to Sacramento.
Responding to suggestions by independent safety engineers who have called for more thorough inspections of Southwest's older 737 models, Kelly said his airline is following the safety guidelines called for by Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board.
"It's not that it takes a long time," he said of the safety inspections. "We will do whatever it takes to ensure safety but at a certain point you need to take off."
-- Sharon Bernstein
Photo: American Airlines chief Gerard J. Arpey, left, and Southwest Airlines CEO Gary C. Kelly speak at a conference in Dallas. Credit: Sharon Bernstein