Southwest Cancels Over 1,000 Flights Sunday, Blames Weather and Air Traffic Control
Southwest Airlines has canceled more than 1,000 Sunday flights according to flight tracker FlightAware. That’s more than a quarter of the airline’s scheduled flights. The Dallas-based airline canceled 808 flights on Saturday
The airline blamed the cancellations on air traffic control issues and bad weather. But its cancellations were the highest of any U.S. airline by a wide margin. American Airlines has canceled just 63 flights, or 2% of its operation, while Spirit Airlines canceled 32 flights, or 4% of its flights, according to FlightAware. All airlines use the same ATC system so the discrepancy doesn’t add up. Additionally, airports that are experiencing the highest cancellation rates nationwide are also Southwest hubs.
“Air traffic control (ATC) issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation. We appreciate your patience as we accommodate affected Customers, and Customer Service wait times are longer than usual,” Southwest said in a statement on Twitter.
But the FAA challenged claims that ATC issues were to blame. “No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday,” Steve Kulm, FAA spokesperson, said in a statement as reported by USA Today. “Flight delays and cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday afternoon due to widespread severe weather, military training, and limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center.”
“Some airlines continue to experience scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place,” the FAA explained in its statement. “Please contact the airlines for details about current flight schedules.”
Many reports on social media show that even Southwest employees at airports are giving customers conflicting reasons for the cancellations and delays.
.@SouthwestAir has already canceled a quarter of today’s flights. Here’s the rebooking line @PHXSkyHarbor just before 6 am pic.twitter.com/Aw1ufJjVY4
— Dawn Gilbertson (@DawnGilbertson) October 10, 2021