Southwest Airlines 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 Officer 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 at 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 died after debris destroyed the window next to her, causing the mother of two to be partially sucked through the opening. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, resident was one of 144 passengers and five crew members on Flight 1380 when the midair accident occurred near Philadelphia, en route to Dallas from New York on Tuesday.
Beyond the check and the voucher, Southwest offered the passengers assistance with other “necessities,” including help being reunited with luggage that was on the flight or other expenses. “Our primary focus and commitment is to assist you in every way possible,” Kelly wrote.
Southwest and other U.S. carriers that use 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.
The accident caused the first passenger death on a Southwest flight ever, and the first on a U.S. commercial airline since 2009.
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