The Oklahoman

Southwest limits canceled flights after 3 tumultuous days

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DALLAS – Southwest Airlines flights appeared to be running closer to normal on Tuesday after the airline canceled nearly 2,400 flights over the previous three days.

By midday Tuesday, Southwest had canceled fewer than 100 flights, or 2% of its schedule, according to tracking service FlightAwar­e. More than 400 other flights were running late.

Southwest said bad weather and air traffic control issues in Florida on Friday triggered cascading failures in which planes and pilots were trapped out of position for their next flights. The crisis peaked on Sunday, when Southwest canceled more than 1,100 flights, or 30% of its schedule.

“When you get behind, it just takes several days to catch up,” CEO Gary Kelly said Tuesday on CNBC. “We were significantly set behind on Friday.”

Casey Murray, the president of the pilots’ union at Southwest, blames the airline for poor planning. He said flaws in the airline’s crew-scheduling system made it hard to staff flights and allowed a minor setback to become a meltdown.

Southwest had already trimmed its fall schedule after widespread cancellati­ons and delays over the summer. The airline thought those reductions had helped, but the weekend debacle is causing it to consider further reductions in schedules for November and December.

The flight disruption­s began shortly after the union for Southwest’s 9,000 pilots asked a federal court to block the airline’s order that all employees get vaccinated against COVID-19. The union argued that Southwest should negotiate terms of such a mandate.

Southwest and the union deny that the flight disruption­s were due to a protest sickout or slowdown by employees. Kelly and Murray said that absentee rates over the weekend were normal, although they did not provide numbers.

Shares of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. rose 1% in midday trading after falling 4% on Monday.

 ?? DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP FILE ?? Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds more flights Monday following a weekend of major service disruption­s.
DAVID ZALUBOWSKI/AP FILE Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds more flights Monday following a weekend of major service disruption­s.

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