United Airlines boss Scott Kirby has hit out at industry “capacity aspirations” for 2023, describing them as unachievable.
In the airline’s full-year 2022 earnings call, Kirby says pilot shortages and other staffing issues as well as the delay in aircraft delivery and parts are inhibiting the growth of carriers.
He adds that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and most airlines have “outgrown their technology infrastructure and simply cannot operate reliably in this more challenging environment.”
Kirby says United took the decision to fly less in 2022 so that it could invest in its technology and infrastructure and recruit more staff.
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“Our industry has been changed profoundly by the pandemic and you can’t run your airline like it’s 2019 or you will fail, but don’t take my word for it, watch the data,” he says.
In recent weeks, the aviation industry has suffered considerable setbacks including the grounding of all flights in the U.S. by the FAA for several hours because of a technical issue earlier this month.
In late December, Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights with an estimated financial impact of between $725 million and $825 million.
The carrier has since announced in a letter from its CEO Bob Jordan that it has hired a consultant to assess the incident and also says it plans to upgrade its crew recovery system and boost its crew engagement system.
Jordan also says Southwest has “budgeted to spend more than $1 billion of our annual operating plan on investments, upgrades and maintenance of our IT systems.”
United, meanwhile, believes that improvements in its technology and infrastructure give it a “head start” for 2023.
The carrier posted profit of $843 million for the fourth quarter of 2022 and revenue of $12.4 billion.