Southwest Airlines Co. is providing $5,000 checks and $1,000 travel vouchers to passengers who were on a flight this week when an engine broke apart, killing a woman on board.
“We value you as our customer and hope you will allow us another opportunity to restore your confidence in Southwest,” Chief Executive Gary Kelly said in a letter to the customers. “In this spirit, we are sending you a check in the amount of $5,000 to cover any of your immediate financial needs.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to determine why a fan blade tore loose, shattering the CFM engine and shooting fragments into a wing and the fuselage of the Boeing Co. 737-700. Federal investigators found signs of metal fatigue where the blade broke off.
Jennifer Riordan, a Wells Fargo & Co. executive and mother of two from Albuquerque, died after debris shattered the window she was sitting next to and she was partially sucked through the opening. She was one of 144 passengers and five crew members on Flight 1380 on Tuesday to Dallas from New York when the accident occurred near Philadelphia.
In addition to the check and the voucher, Southwest offered the passengers assistance with other “necessities,” including help recovering luggage and other expenses. “Our primary focus and commitment is to assist you in every way possible,” Kelly wrote.
Passenger Marty Martinez of Dallas said he has no immediate plan to cash the check. He wants to talk to a lawyer. Eric Zilbert of Davis, Calif., said that after consulting with an attorney, he will cash his.
Southwest and other U.S. carriers that fly jets equipped with the CFM56-7B engine, made by a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA, have been examining fan blades for cracks. The Federal Aviation Administration has said it will order ultrasonic inspection of the parts.
Riordan was the first passenger ever to be killed in a Southwest accident, and the first passenger fatality in a U.S. commercial airline accident since 2009.