Southwest Airlines canceled several hundred flights on Monday as it worked to resolve problems that led to it hitting more than a quarter of its planned flights last weekend.
More than 1,800 southwest flights were canceled on Saturday and Sunday, accounting for more than 28 percent of its flights over the weekend, according to FlightAware, a tracking service. At noon on Monday, the Southwest canceled about 10 percent of scheduled flights, more than 360 flights.
The cancellation caused extensive damage to travel plans for thousands of passengers, many of whom have expressed their concerns on social media. At least some were trying to get to the Boston Marathon, which was canceled last year and delayed by six months this year.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which represents its pilots’ union, said the disruption was not caused by protests over the recently announced airline’s immunization order, denying an idea that had been drawn online by vaccinated activists. Conservative lawmakers point to Southwest cancellation as evidence that vaccine requirements could hurt the economy.
“Joe Biden’s authority to strike illegally at work!” Senator Ted Cruz, of the Republican state of Texas, said Sunday night on Twitter. “Suddenly, we’re short on pilots and pilots.” Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican of Wisconsin, made the remarks on Monday.
The South West has been accused of canceling for several reasons, including weather problems, air traffic control, and the inability to locate flight attendants and airlines where needed.
“We encountered weather challenges at our Florida airports earlier this weekend, challenges compounded by unexpected air traffic control problems in the same region, causing delays and removing our major cancellations from Friday evening,” the airline said in a statement. . “We continued to work hard throughout the weekend to reset our operations by focusing on getting flights and staff to put care for our customers.”
The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged that some flights had been delayed or suspended on Friday due to bad weather, military training, and a small shortage of personnel at one airport control center, but said the disruption lasted only a few hours.
“Some airlines continue to face planning challenges because airlines and crew are not in the area,” the organization said in a statement.
Casey Murray, president of the Southwest pilots’ union, said pilots had called for patients in the usual way this weekend.
Widespread cancellations, he said, were instead caused by technical issues and problems with how pilots were re-assigned and rehabilitated during a disruption, a complex process of the particularly large Southwest network, pointing to the point. On a typical day, about 10 percent of pilots are reassigned to planes. That figure was 71 percent on Saturday and 85 percent on Sunday, according to Mr. Murray.
“It doesn’t make us cry,” he said. “The domino effect continues, and what we see, due to some internal failure, happens so often that they can’t move everyone.”
The union also said in a statement on Sunday that its members were barred by state law from using the strike to resolve labor disputes without resorting to alternative measures.
While the union said it did not oppose the vaccine, it denied that its members were calling for patients to protest against the order, but asked a judge on Friday to suspend the airline from implementing vaccination law and other policies. The application is part of a broader pre-emptive claim and focuses on the union’s claim that the South West has taken “several illegal” actions in violation of labor law.
The Southwest is not alone in seeing workers retrenchment beyond vaccination authority. Last week, hundreds of American Airlines staff and protesters protested their new mandate outside the Fort Worth airport in Texas, according to The Dallas Morning News.
But many others have expressed support for these needs. Airlines United Airlines, the first major US airline to issue a mandate, said almost all 67,000 of its employees had been vaccinated, except about 2,000 who had applied for religious or medical dissent. United have said they expect to fire less than 250 workers for failing to comply with the law. The airline management was expecting a beating but was surprised by the positive response, realizing that it had received more applicants for more open airline positions than before the epidemic.
“I did not appreciate the immense support of the existing vaccination authority, because you hear that much more anti-vax voice than the people who want it,” United chief executive Scott Kirby told this month. “But there are many. And it’s tense. ”
Delta Air Lines has not yet announced a vaccination requirement but has said it will charge uninsured workers more than $ 200 a month for health insurance.