Southwest said on Friday it intended the increases to take effect on August 1. The airline said the increases for some of the workers will require negotiations with the unions.
“Southwest continually strives to attract and retain the best candidates for vacancies,” said spokesperson Brad Hawkins. “As part of this ongoing effort, Southwest is increasing minimum rates of pay so that all hourly employees earn at least $ 15 an hour. “
Southwest’s announcement comes as air travel resumes at the start of the summer vacation season after the pandemic turned last year’s peak season into a disaster. The number of people passing through security checkpoints at U.S. airports has exceeded 2 million seven times in the past two weeks, reaching levels not seen since early March 2020.
However, domestic travel this month is still 27% lower as of June 2019, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration.
Southwest, based in Dallas, carries more passengers to the United States than any other airline and is less dependent than its American rivals, Delta and United on business travel, which are still in deep crisis. These factors have helped Southwest perform better than other airlines this year – it made a small profit in the first quarter, thanks to federal pandemic assistance, after losing $ 3 billion in 2020.
News of the salary increases was reported earlier by Bloomberg.
Southwest has about 56,000 employees, up from about 61,000 a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing. The company announced Wednesday that its longtime CEO Gary Kelly will step down next February and be replaced by Robert Jordan, the airline’s executive vice president of business services.
Other large companies have recently increased their wages as employers compete to hire workers. Chipotle Mexican Grill in May increased its averagefor its 100,000 employees in 2,800 restaurants.
Currently, 29 states and Washington, DC, have minimum wages above the federal minimum. The federal minimum wage has remained at $ 7.25 an hour for more than a decade, but some large employers have also increased their wages in recent years as part of the Fight for $ 15 campaign that began with protests from fast food workers in 2012.