More than 1,000 flights were canceled by Dallas-based Southwest Airlines over the weekend. According to flight tracker FlightAware, the airline canceled 28% of its scheduled flights as of 1 p.m. CT Sunday. The flight tracker shows that this rate of cancellations is the highest of the major U.S. airlines, ranking higher than Allegiant and Spirit Airlines, which canceled 5% and 4%, respectively.
Southwest Airlines blamed air traffic control issues and weather for the cancellations. The Dallas Express reported on the Allied Pilots Association sending a warning to the White House and congressional leaders, claiming the vaccine mandate could cause a labor shortage and cause major travel disruptions.
According to Newsweek, the problem at Southwest Airlines can be traced to employee protests against mandatory COVID vaccines as the airline is one of those who implemented a deadline for their employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. In a rebuttal of that claim, the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association said on Sunday that pilots are not focused on unofficial job actions like strikes and walkouts but instead are focused on “the safety of our crews, passengers, and overcoming operational challenges.”
Southwest Airlines released a statement on Sunday explaining, “We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening.”
The statement said that the airline officials have diligently worked throughout the weekend to reset operations. Their primary reset tactic includes getting airlines and crews repositioned.
The airline assured its customers that officials are still working to accommodate them as quickly as possible, explaining that recovering during operational challenges is difficult, especially with fewer frequencies between cities in its current schedule.