Southwest Airlines cancels over 1,000 flights nationwide

More than 1,000 Southwest Airlines fights were canceled Sunday, one day after air traffic control issues and bad weather prompted the airline to cancel over 800 flights nationwide, according to airline officials and FlightAware.

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In a statement released Saturday and obtained by USA Today, Southwest officials said they experienced “significant impact in the Florida airports” Friday due to an air traffic management program implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration because of bad weather.

“We are working hard behind the scenes to minimize challenges and fully recover the operation as we take care of displaced crews and customers as quickly as possible,” the statement read. “We will continue to reset our network today and hope to return to close to normal operations as we move into Sunday.’’

However, about 27% of Southwest Airlines’ flights were canceled Sunday, while another 382 were delayed, according to FlightAware, a site which tracks flight data. The cancellations came after officials canceled 24% of Southwest’s flights Saturday. Nearly 1,200 other Southwest flights were delayed that day, according to FlightAware.

By contrast, American Airlines canceled 63 flights by 1 p.m. Sunday, amounting to about 2% of its schedule, while Spirit Airlines canceled 32 flights, or 4% of its schedule, according to FlightAware.

The Southwest flight cancelations came amid fears of staff shortages caused by a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate, Bloomberg News reported. Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told USA Today the issue stemmed from staffing and a “poorly run operation.”

In a statement released Saturday, the union said that “we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.”

“Our Pilots will continue to overcome SWA management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges, and remain the most productive Pilots in the world,” the statement read.

Southwest is the largest domestic airline operating in the U.S., with a 23% market share, according to company officials.