There doesn’t seem to be an end in sight for Southwest Airlines’ (SWA) cancellation woes. The domino effect that began over the weekend, then spilled over into Monday, is continuing on Tuesday.
According to FlightAware, Southwest canceled 435 flights on Monday -- 12% of its total scheduled departures -- and delayed 1,524 of its arrivals, a 42% hit. For Tuesday, the numbers look a little better, with 89 cancellations and 242 delays as of late morning. For the year, Southwest’s total cancellations total 2,022 (7.6%) and its delayed arrivals come to 7,084 (28.9%).
What destinations are impacted?
Travelers with flights starting out West look to be impacted the most, with 90 Southwest flights from California to Colorado canceled from late Monday through Tuesday.
Using FlightAware data, ConsumerAffairs counted 25 Southwest cancellations out of Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas since Monday evening. Others include 12 cancellations at Bob Hope Airport (BUR) in Burbank; 11 at Denver International (DEN); 10 at Chicago Midway (MDW); 9 from Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX); 7 from Baltimore-Washington (BWI), San Jose (SJC), Sacramento (SMF), San Diego (SAN), and Oakland (OAK); 6 from Love Field (DAL) in Dallas; and 5 from Los Angeles International (LAX).
Pilots union says Southwest’s operation is “brittle”
When this news first broke, Southwest tried to place some of the blame on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and air traffic issues. The FAA countered by saying there had been no air traffic-related cancellations since Friday. The agency also noted that if any airlines were experiencing delays, it was due to aircraft and crews being out of place.
The Southwest pilots union (SWAPA) is ramping up the blame game even further, calling Southwest’s troubles “another operational meltdown.”
“There are false claims of job actions by Southwest Pilots currently gaining traction on social media and making their way into mainstream news. I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise,” union leadership wrote.
Furthermore, SWAPA called Southwest out for claiming that the immediate causes of the airline’s meltdown were staffing at Jacksonville Center and weather in the southeast U.S. The organization said the weather and staffing issues in Jacksonville were true to some extent, but it asked why these problems were nothing more than a “minor temporary event” for other airlines but devastating to Southwest.
“[It’s] because our operation has become brittle and subject to massive failures under the slightest pressure,” the union said, answering its own question. “Our operation and our frontline employees have endured continuous and unending disruptions since the first time our airline made headlines in early June due to widespread IT failures. Our Pilots are tired and frustrated because our operation is running on empty due to a lack of support from the Company.”
“SWAPA has grave concerns about the direction Southwest Airlines has taken in putting profits ahead of people. Enough is enough.”