(MENAFN– Baystreet.ca) Southwest Airlines Cancels More Than 1,800 Flights Amid Staffing Shortage
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights this past weekend, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of customers and stranding flight crews around the U.S.
The discount airline blamed the massive cancellations on a combination of bad weather, air traffic control problems and its own shortage of available staff.
Other U.S. airlines canceled relatively few flights over the weekend. Southwest Airlines has been struggling with a shortage of staff coming out of the pandemic, notably of pilots.
Southwest’s major destinations of Denver, Baltimore, Dallas and Chicago were among the hardest hit by the weekend cancellations.
The airline said in a written statement that it expects to get close to normal operations this week.
Staffing shortages fueled hundreds of cancellations and delays at Southwest Airlines over the summer. The airline trimmed its schedule after the summer to avoid further disruptions. Other airlines also faced a shortage of workers after encouraging thousands to take leave or buyouts at the height of the pandemic, only for travel demand to return faster than expected.
The airline has struggled to hire new employees in the tight labor market. The disparity between Southwest’s operations and other airlines fueled speculation on social media that employees were calling out sick, with some suggesting it was in protest of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, Southwest pilots’ labor union said that“we can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.”
On Friday (October 8), the labor union asked a federal court in Dallas to temporarily block the implementation of the vaccine mandate and other COVID-19 policies, arguing the company took unilateral decisions that require negotiations with the union.
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This article first appeared on Airline News, global aviation community’s primary source of news, data, insight, knowledge and expertise.