Southwest Airlines Apologizes as Shares Tumble Amid Mass Flight Cancellations

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Southwest Airlines late Monday extended an apology to customers and employees for mass flight cancellations the company has blamed on the weather.

Southwest canceled about 2,000 flights over the weekend and axed hundreds more on Oct. 11. Early Tuesday, 87 flights, or 2 percent of the scheduled flights, were cancelled, with another 5 percent delayed, according to data from FlightAware.

“On Friday evening, the airline ended the day with numerous cancellations, primarily created by weather and other external constraints, which left aircraft and Crews out of pre-planned positions to operate our schedule on Saturday. Unfortunately, the out-of-place aircraft and continued strain on our Crew resources created additional cancelations across our point-to-point network that cascaded throughout the weekend and into Monday,” Southwest said in a statement.

“Southwest Teams have been working diligently to restore stability to the network, and we are experiencing less disruptions on Monday. We hope to restore our full schedule as soon as possible.”

The company said it was offering “a tremendous apology” for the mass cancellations.

It also continued to deny reports on social media that the disruptions stemmed from pilots calling out sick to protest against the recently announced COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“The operational challenges were not a result of Southwest employee demonstrations,” Southwest said.

“Their trips are disrupted. They have unscheduled overnights. They have all the same types of impacts that our customers experience. So if anything, I think they’ve been heroes through this trying to operate. There is absolutely no evidence of any kind of job action,” incoming CEO Bob Jordan told the Dallas Morning News.

The union representing Southwest Airlines pilots also denied allegations of a mass “sickout.”

“I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise,” the union said in an Oct. 10 statement. It blamed Southwest for alleged mismanagement, noting that other airlines didn’t appear to be suffering from similar problems.

By Zachary Stieber

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