Southwest Airlines to up minimum wage to $15 per hour

U.S.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-73V jet departs Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, on April 6, 2021. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / AFP) (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

DALLAS (NewsNation Now) — Southwest Airlines confirmed Friday it plans to increase hourly minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The airline said more than 7,000 current workers will benefit from the change, which is about 12% of employees.

In a statement to NewsNationNow.com the company said, “Some of our workgroups will require negotiations to make this pay increase possible, and Southwest’s intent is to have this wage increase in place by August 1, 2021.”

Southwest also said this move is part of their ongoing effort to “attract and retain the best candidates for open positions.”

This comes as demand for air travel is taking off after plummeting during the pandemic. The number of people going through security checkpoints at U.S. airports has topped 2 million seven times in the past two weeks, hitting levels not seen since early March 2020.

However, domestic travel this month is still running 27% below June 2019, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration.

Dallas-based Southwest carries more passengers within the United States than any other airline and is less dependent than rivals American, Delta and United on business travel, which is still in a slump. Those factors have helped Southwest fare better than other airlines this year — it turned a small profit in the first quarter, thanks to federal pandemic relief, after losing $3 billion in 2020.

Southwest has about 56,000 employees, down from about 61,000 a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing. The company announced Wednesday that longtime CEO Gary Kelly will step down next February and be succeeded by Robert Jordan, the airline’s executive vice president of corporate services.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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