The long weekend in the US has become even longer for Southwest customers, after the airline canceled more than 1,000 flights on Sunday, nearly 27% of its daily operations, marking the second day of mass cancellations by the largest low-cost airline. In the world.
The company blamed the cancellation on air traffic control problems and limited staffing in Florida, as well as bad weather, CNN reported.
For its part, the Federal Aviation Administration said, in a statement, that there have been no cancellations related to air traffic since Friday.
“Flight delays and cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday afternoon, due to widespread severe weather, military exercises and limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville Air Route Air Traffic Control Center,” the FAA added.
However, other airlines do not appear to have been hit hard by these issues, with American Airlines canceling 2% of its flights on Sunday and budget airline Spirit Airlines canceling 2%, according to FlightAware.
The heavy demand for travel comes against the backdrop of extending the weekend into Monday due to the federal holiday.
Southwest also canceled 808 flights on Saturday, stranding thousands of passengers across the country.
Last week, the airline announced the imposition of the vaccine on employees, fueling speculation that the weekend delay may have been due to the pilots’ strike.
Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement: “Southwest must join its industry peers in complying with the federal COVID-19 vaccination guidance.”
For its part, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) claimed the cancellation was due to “mismanagement planning”.
“SWAPA is aware of the operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our pilots are not involved in any formal or informal operational procedures,” the association said.
This comes as the airline recorded the worst on-time performance and the largest percentage of canceled flights of any of the country’s big four airlines during June and July, according to flight tracking service Cirium.
Nor were the passengers the only disgruntled Southwest, where unions of pilots, flight attendants and mechanics have voiced complaints about the airline’s operations.