Dallas-based Southwest Airlines blamed weather and air traffic control issues for the 1,900 canceled flights that stranded thousands of passengers over the past few days.
"Although we have some new weather in parts of our system, today's operation has vastly improved from the weekend, with a much smaller number of cancellations linked to our weekend recovery efforts," the carrier said.
On Monday afternoon, Southwest issued "a tremendous apology" to customers and employees, saying the company has "been working diligently to restore stability to the network, and we are experiencing less disruptions on Monday."
"We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening," a Southwest Airlines spokesperson said in a statement. "We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers."
Several passengers shared their anger and frustration online on Twitter.
A disgruntled passenger tweeted, "I was led to believe Southwest Airlines ran a very efficient operation, my experience last couple days confirms the opposite."
The Senator tweeted, "Suddenly, we’re short on pilots & air traffic controllers."
"SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions," the organization said in a statement Saturday. "Our Pilots will continue to overcome SWA management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges, and remain the most productive Pilots in the world."
The Federal Aviation Administration reported no other airline reported these issues and flight cancellations that Southwest Airlines did.
The Federal Aviation Administration has not seen any air traffic shortages since Friday. "Flight delays and cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday afternoon due to widespread severe weather, military training, and limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center," the FAA said.
Since summer, Southwest Airlines has struggled to manage flights. The airline had a high number of delayed and canceled flights. In August Southwest trimmed its September schedule by 27 flights a day, or less than 1%. From October to November 5, they trimmed the schedule of 162 flights a day or 4.5% of the schedule.
Last week, Southwest Airlines reported they required staff to get fully vaccinated by December 8 if they wanted to remain with the airline. Some analysts believe staff opposed the mandate and were sitting out showing their defiance over the vaccine mandate.
An airlines analyst for Raymond James, Savanthi Syth, said this will strain relations with staff and labor unions. Costs for Southwest will probably increase.
Were you on a Southwest Airlines flight recently?
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