Sotthwest Airlines deals with resume washing

Southwest Deals with “Resume Washing” as a New Obstacle in Pilot Retention

Southwest Airlines is currently dealing with  “resume washing” as it struggles to keep pilots working for the airline. Resume washing takes place when pilots work for smaller airlines for months to have enough flying hours to be eligible to apply to bigger airlines. 

Southwest COO Andrew Watterson said in an interview in New York that regional pilots “know that if I get Southwest or another airline on my resume, I can get to where I want to go.” He added, “So they use us as a premeditated way station. They come to Southwest, get hired, trained, spend six months and then they flip their résumé and apply somewhere else.” 

And this is something that is understandable since pilots who aim to fly wide-body aircraft on international routes can’t have that with Southwest. Southwest only has single-aisle Boeing Co. 737s domestically and flies to Mexico, Aruba, and Costa Rica. 

Resume Washing and Southwest’s Attrition Rate

Resume washing has contributed to Southwest’s attrition rate, especially among younger first officers according to Southwest CEO Bob Jordan.  He called this situation an “anomaly” for the country’s fourth-largest airline. 

Southwest is known for its employee-friendly environment and even claims to not have furloughed a worker. 

Pay Comparison

Kit Darby, who is the owner of an aviation consulting firm, said that job hopping is a good thing for pilots. For instance, a 40-year career in United or American can lead to $22 million in pay, benefits, and retirement package. On the other hand, Darby discovered that the same duration could only generate $16.3 million at Southwest. 

He said, “It’s great for pilots to have a choice.” He added, “In the old days, you were lucky to get a single job.” 

As the pandemic waned, the US airline industry intensified its efforts to hire pilots to match the current travel demand. Some airlines even recruit foreign pilots. When Watterson was asked what Southwest could do to address resume washing, he said “It’s literally impossible.” He added that Southwest is “having no trouble getting pilots.” 

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John Michael Jayme
John Michael Jayme is a Travel Analyst for The Jet Set. He writes about news and events affecting the travel industry.


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