Southwest Airlines warns of further flight disruptions as the collapse attracts government inquiry

Southwest Carriers cancelled roughly two-thirds of its flights on Tuesday. They warned that widespread delays would persist throughout the week, drawing the Transportation Department’s attention as other airlines recovered from harsh winter weather.

Harsh winter weather conditions

Thousands of flights were cancelled in the preceding week in the United States as winter storms dumped snow, ice, high winds, and bitter cold over the country, affecting travel from coast to coast. However, Southwest stood out for its continued interruptions, even as the weather improved on Christmas Day and other airlines started to stabilize.

More than 2,500 flights were cancelled by the airline on Tuesday. Southwest dropped 70% of its schedule on Monday and said it would fly roughly a third of its program “for the next several days” to restore its operations. Delta cancelled 9% of its mainline flights on Monday, while United cancelled 5%. American curtailed fewer than 1% of its flights, mainly owing to a winter storm-related airport shutdown in Buffalo.

Southwest is cutting its schedule to reset its operation and get planes and employees to where they need to be, a tactic that has increased uncertainty for travellers during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

It will impact our customers

“Obviously, that would have an even greater impact on our Customers,” Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said in an employee memo Monday. “But we have to get out of here. We need to get to the point where we’re dependable and can keep our customers, crews, aircraft, and everything else on track.”

Among the other obstacles, Southwest officials cited unexpected fog in San Diego, personnel shortages at its fuel provider in Denver, and internal technology issues that hindered crew reassignments and hotel reservations. The Dallas-based airline issued an apology to passengers and workers.

Southwest did not immediately explain what it meant by “reasonable.”

Its stock fell dramatically on Tuesday, while big competitors’ stocks were hardly altered.

Southwest and other carriers will almost certainly reveal the expenses of the interruptions when they report earnings next month, if not sooner.

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