Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) has completed a project, which sits on an area of 414,000 Sq. Ft., that housed pilot training facilities and a new flight operations center in 2018 with an investment of $250 million. The last year’s expansion holds two buildings: the Wings Building, and the Leadership and Air Crew Building (LACB). Southwest established flight operations in Wings Building. The company is expanding its pilot training facilities and is expected to complete the work on a three-story building in Dallas by fall 2020.
Eighteen flight simulators
The new center is being built on 141,000 Sq. Ft. area would hold an additional eight flight simulators and pilot briefing/ training rooms. With this expansion, the airline would have eighteen flight simulators. According to a spokesman of the Southwest, Dan Landson, the airline did not receive any grants for the expansion from the government.
Vice President (Flight Operations), Alan Kasher, said the proposed expansion allows the company to focus on training and bring out the best pilots to meet the need for more pilots for its operations. Monthly, Southwest imparts training to 850 new pilots. The airline holds 9,100 pilots on its role. It has put on hold training of new pilots temporarily on the backdrop of grounding Boeing 737 Max planes.
Flight count to increase to 800
The number of planes in the fleet of Southwest would increase to 800 by the end of 2020 from the existing 750 airplanes. Southwest has ordered hundreds of Max airplanes and needs more pilots to support the growth. The Federal Aviation Administration has grounded the Max planes because of technical reasons. Southwest has already ordered over 350 of Max planes for delivery through 2026.
Southwest reported a record net income of $659 million in Q3 2019. Its operating revenues are $5.6 billion in Q3. Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the board, Gary C. Kelly, said the company posted decent revenues in Q3, but its operating income declined by $210 million because of the grounding of Max aircraft.
Southwest is in discussions with Boeing regarding compensation for the damages caused because of ground Max aircraft.