On Monday, Southwest Airlines canceled hundreds of flights after major service disruptions over the weekend.
Southwest had already canceled around 365 flights by late morning on Monday. This number makes up for 10% of the scheduled flights for the day. Apart from the canceled flights, over 600 more had been delayed.
The airline said air traffic control issues and the weekend’s bad weather caused the “operational challenges” that resulted in 1,900 flights being canceled on Saturday and Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration unusually pushed back on the explanation of Southwest Airlines. The said airline was alone in reporting a huge number of canceled and delayed flights last weekend.
After the incident, Southwest Airlines Co.’s shares fell by over 4% on Monday prior to experiencing a partial recovery.
The rampant disruptions started shortly after its pilots’ unions asked a federal court to stop Southwest’s orders for every employee to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The said union claimed that it does not disapprove of vaccines. However, it argued in a Friday filing that the airline needs to negotiate prior to doing such a thing.
Union for Southwest Airlines Pilots Deny Protest Against Vaccine Mandates
As the extent of the airlines’ operational meltdown last weekend has become more obvious, the pilots’ union denied reports implying that they are conducting a sickout as a form of protest against vaccine mandates. According to the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, it “has not authorized, and will not condone, any job action.”
The group then provided another explanation, saying that the airlines’ operation “has become brittle and subject to massive failures under the slightest pressure” because they lack support from the company. It then complained about the “already strained relationship” between the group and the airlines.
The White House has urged many airline companies to adopt the vaccine requirements because they get paid under federal contracts. This apparently makes them subject to the current administration’s order indicating that federal contractors need to mandate getting the vaccine among their employees.
United became the first major U.S. airline company to reveal that they are requiring the vaccine. However, Southwest had stayed quiet even after the president revealed his order for federal contractors and large companies. Last week, Southwest finally instructed its employees to get fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 if they wanted to keep their jobs. Some workers are allowed to ask for an exemption for religious reasons.