Southwest Airlines had to issue an apology on Sunday for the chaotic weekend experienced by its passengers. Southwest Airlines canceled more than 2,000 flights from Friday to Sunday.
On Sunday alone, the carrier canceled 1,018 flights which is equivalent to 28% of Southwest’s scheduled flights on that day.
According to the airline’s spokesperson, the disruption started on Friday. The airline had to deal with bad weather conditions in Florida worsened by air traffic control issues in the region. But aside from the problems mentioned, the carrier also experienced a staffing shortage.
The carrier released a statement saying “We experienced a significant impact in the Florida airports Friday evening after an FAA-imposed air traffic management program was implemented due to weather and resulted in a large number of cancellations”.
Chaotic Weekend Due to Crew Problems?
The Federal Aviation Administration, however, said that there was no air traffic-related cancellations since Friday. According to the FAA, the airline experienced a chaotic weekend because of its crew problems.
No other airline experienced disruptions due to the weather. Delta Air Lines canceled three flights on Sunday while United Airlines canceled nine flights. However, American Airlines canceled 143 flights.
Staffing Problems Triggered by the Vaccine Mandate?
Senator Ted Cruz, took it on Twitter and speculated why Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights during its chaotic weekend. The cancelations happened just a few days after its pilots’ union asked the court to block the COVID19 vaccine mandate.
Southwest’s Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said that “Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government’s COVID19 vaccination directive”. He added that “I encourage all Southwest employees to meet the federal directive, as quickly as possible”.
Even with speculations that canceled flights were due to staffing issues, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association denied any involvement in the delays and cancelations. The pilots’ union said that the cancellations were due to “management’s poor planning”. The union said that “we can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.”