Southwest Airlines cancellations cause travel trouble across the nation and South Florida

Southwest Airlines Jet Plane – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by QualityHD

Southwest Airlines passengers are still struggling with flight delays across the country and it is impacting those in South Florida.

On Monday, Southwest canceled more than 360 flights, which is 10% of its schedule for the day. More than 800 others have been delayed according to the FlightAware tracking service.

More than 1,000 flights were canceled on Sunday, after having approximately 800 nationwide cancellations on Saturday.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Miami International Airport are among the sites affected.

Southwest stated that disruptive weather and air traffic control issues are to blame for many of the flights being delayed or canceled.

The company released a statement that read:

“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… We’re working diligently to accommodate our customers as quickly as possible… We apologize, and we again thank everyone for patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans.”

However, the Federal Aviation Administration claims that no major traffic control issues have been reported since Friday. The FAA tweeted that some airlines continue to experience scheduling issues due to crews and aircrafts being out of place. 

The airline’s pilot union, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said: “Our pilots will continue to overcome SWA management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges.”

President and travel industry analyst at The Atmosphere Research Group, Henry H. Harteveldt, found no other causes for the cancellations.

First and foremost, he believes that Southwest has scheduled more flights than it can handle, tracing back to June. He also highlighted that Southwest operates on a “point-to-point” network, and when a delay occurs, it pours into the remaining flight segments. That’s because a Southwest flight leaving Fort Lauderdale for the airline’s home in Dallas may stop multiple times on the way.

Harteveldt says that one of the troubling reasons is that some pilots who oppose Southwest’s decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine are engaging in a “work slowdown,” calling in sick illegally.

However, a statement Saturday from the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association said that is not the case.

“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,” it said.

Harteveldt noted Southwest’s current downfall could linger and affect its fourth-quarter financial performance.

“All of this is happening as people are in the midst of booking their Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year holiday travel,” he said. “It’s very possible that some people who might normally book on Southwest may see this news and choose to fly other airlines.”

Southwest struggled the entire summer with high numbers of both delayed and canceled flights. In August, the airline announced that it was cutting down its September schedule by 27 flights a day, or less than 1%. From early October through November 5th, 162 flights, or 4.5% of the schedule would be cut down.

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