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Southwest Airlines cancels over 1,000 flights on Sunday

written by Isabella Richards | October 11, 2021
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX, pictured at Las Vegas International (Tomás Del Coro/Wikicommons).

Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines cancelled almost 30 per cent of its flights on Sunday after “disruptive weather” plagued the company’s schedule.

The Dallas-based airline cancelled 1,085 flights and delayed 933 flights according to FlightAware, marking the second day in a row of mass cancellations.

“ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation,” said Southwest on Twitter.

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“We appreciate your patience as we accommodate affected customers, and customer service wait times are longer than usual.”

Some of Southwest’s major destinations including Denver, Dallas Love Field, Chicago Midway and Baltimore were the worst impacted by the cancellations.

Despite this, other competing US airlines only suffered few cancellations over the weekend while Southwest was in the midst of severe weather conditions across Texas.

American Airlines cancelled 5 per cent of its flights, Spirit Airlines cancelled 4 per cent, and United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines all had zero cancellations.

In a memo to staff seen by CNBC, Alan Kasher, Southwest’s executive vice-president of daily flight operations also blamed an “FAA-imposed air traffic management program” for the issues.

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But the Federal Aviation Administration said on Twitter yesterday: “No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday.”

“Flight delays & cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday PM due to widespread severe weather, military training, & limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville en route center.”

The American regulator said some airlines continued to experience schedule disruptions due to aircraft and crews “being out of place”.

This has been an ongoing battle for airlines scrambling to meet increased travel demand in the post-pandemic recovery.

“Right now, our [network operations centre] teams are working to protect our crew network and prevent misconnects – both for our crews and customers – that would cause an even greater impact,” Kasher said.

In late June, Southwest offered incentives for staff to work longer hours to avoid further cancellations plagued by labour shortages.

According to Kasher, some crew did not have planned hotel rooms for overlays over the weekend – another issue major airlines have faced in recent months.

American Airlines in July was slammed with grievances from flight crew unions over not providing sufficient transportation and accommodation during layovers.

Some crews were forced to sleep in airports due to congested hotels in remote areas as summer holidays spiked tourism, according to the unions.

Kasher said the company was doing its best to “reset” its network, and according to FlightAware, no Southwest flights have been cancelled today as of yet.

 

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