Southwest Airlines service appeared to be back to normal on Tuesday after nearly 2,400 flights were canceled in three days.
By Tuesday afternoon, the US airline had canceled fewer than 100 flights, or 2% of its list, according to monitoring service FlightAware. More than 400 flights were delayed.
Southwest says the cancellations and delays were due to bad weather and problems with air traffic controllers in Florida on Friday. The crisis came to a head on Sunday when Southwest Airlines canceled 1,100 flights, 30% of its plan.
“When there are delays, it takes a few days to get back to normal,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told CNBC on Tuesday. “We were very late on Friday.”
Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Pilots Association, blamed the airline for not planning ahead. He told The Associated Press that the way schedules are organized made it difficult to get replacements and turned a minor inconvenience into a crisis.
Southwest, based in Dallas, has already reduced the number of flights offered in the fall after a slew of cancellations and delays in the summer. The airline thought the measure helped, but the crisis prompted it to consider further cuts for November and December.
The problems began shortly after the union asked the courts to block Southwest’s order to vaccinate 9,000 pilots against COVID-19. The union asserts that the company must negotiate such authorizations.
Southwest and the union both denied reports that the crisis was due to an employee protest. Both Kelly and Murray indicated that the number of sick absences at the weekend was normal, although they did not disclose the number.
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