Southwest Airline pilots sue Boeing for $100 million for lost wages
(ABC News) — Southwest Airlines’ pilots union has filed a lawsuit against Boeing for $100 million over lost wages from the grounding of 737 MAX jets in the wake of two crashes and a myriad of safety issues.
The lawsuit was filed in Dallas County, Texas, and alleges that Boeing represented the planes as “airworthy and essentially the same as the time tested 737 aircraft that its pilots have flown for years.” The union called that assertion “false.”
“As pilots, there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our passengers,” Capt. Jonathan L. Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said in a statement. “We have to be able to trust Boeing to truthfully disclose the information we need to safely operate our aircraft. In the case of the 737 MAX, that absolutely did not happen.”
More than 30,000 flights have been grounded by Southwest, which has resulted in an 8% decrease in service in 2019, and thus the $100 million in lost compensation, according to the SWAPA.
The lawsuit is seeking that Boeing pay for the lost compensation and all other “losses associated with the 737 MAX grounding,” and other relief they may be entitled, according to court documents. A similar suit was filed Oct. 1 by the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing American Airlines pilots
“As Southwest Chairman & CEO Gary Kelly previously stated, all Southwest Employees have been impacted by the MAX grounding and it is our intention to allocate, as appropriate, any compensation received from a Boeing business settlement among all Employees via ProfitSharing,” Southwest said in a statement. “As always, we will take care of each one of our nearly 60,000 Southwest Employees.”
Governments and airlines around the world have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX aircrafts since March after two crashes within six months of each other — in October 2018 and March 2019 — that killed a total of 346 people.
Boeing said in a statement it plans to “vigorously” fight the lawsuit.
“Boeing has the greatest respect for the men and women who fly for Southwest Airlines,” Boeing said in a statement. “We are aware that their pilot union, SWAPA, has filed a lawsuit against Boeing related to the 737 MAX suspension of operations. While we value our long relationship with SWAPA, we believe this lawsuit is meritless and will vigorously defend against it. We will continue to work with Southwest Airlines and its pilots on efforts to safely return the MAX to service.”
In March, an Ethiopian Airlines plane carrying 157 people crashed near Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. Like the crash of a Lion Air jet near Indonesia in October, officials believe a misfiring automatic safety system caused the deadly crash.
Boeing has been working for months to fix the issue and then receive government approval to put the planes back into service.
ABC News’ Mina Kaji and Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.