Southwest has had a rough weekend. Since Friday, the carrier experienced more cancellations and delays than any other U.S. airline. About 100 flights were canceled for maintenance reasons. Southwest is struggling to keep up with an unusually high number of aircraft taken out of service.
More than 40 planes a day have been out of service, that’s over the double the usual average, and about five percent of Southwest’s fleet. Southwest faces what its own managers call an operational state of emergency, due to an unusually high number of the airline’s Boeing 737s being taken out of service for maintenance.
It prompted a “state of operational emergency” letter on Friday from the airline. Such a declaration is not unprecedented, but it is rare. It ordered all scheduled mechanics to show up for work or risk being fired. Some workers might be called in on overtime, the carrier said, and those refusing to report for duty could face firing.
The Dallas-based carrier has been in contract talks with the union representing mechanics for more than six years. Members of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, representing 2,700 Southwest workers, rejected a tentative contract agreement in September, Bloomberg reports.