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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Alexandra Skores

Where’s Bob? Southwest Airlines CEO’s absence becomes a talking point in Senate hearing

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan was conspicuous by his absence from Thursday’s U.S. Senate committee hearing into the carrier’s December holiday meltdown.

Committee chair Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, pointed to Andrew Watterson, the company’s chief operating officer who fielded questions from elected officials, and elevated Jordan’s no-show.

“Your CEO didn’t want to show up,” Cantwell said. “Now we could have figured out a way to get him here, but you’re the operations guy and I thought, ‘You know what, I really want to talk to you.’”

So where was Jordan?

Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz said when notified of the hearing, the Dallas-based company provided Jordan’s availability and included Thursday’s date as a conflict with his schedule.

“The committee moved forward with the date and extended an invitation to Southwest’s chief operating officer, Andrew Watterson,” Mainz said in an email to The News. “As chief operating officer, Andrew is exceptionally well positioned to address the operational topics covered at the hearing, as well as answer any question a senator may have.”

Southwest confirmed that Jordan was at an employee rally in Baltimore yesterday, but returned to Dallas afterward. The carrier didn’t say where he was today.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also called attention to Jordan’s absence with a tweet during the hearing.

Jordan has apologized many times for December’s meltdown that displaced thousands of passengers and left their luggage stranded all over the country.

“We messed up for our customers, and we messed up for our employees. And it’s a big deal,” Jordan told The News in January.

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