Southwest Cancellations: External Weather or Internal Climate?
Since Oct. 10, Southwest Airlines canceled over 2,000 flights due to inclement weather issues and staffing. As a result, many travel plans have been disrupted and have left many travelers stranded. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the airline has put the blame on air traffic control and bad weather, but this is only true to some extent.
The FAA confirmed a staffing shortage at an air traffic control center. There were issues with weather and military training exercises but only for a few hours. This took place at an air route traffic control Center in Jacksonville, Fla. The first wave of cancelations messed up their whole flight system which prevented pilots and crew members from being in the right place for boarding their scheduled flights. The center for air route traffic has control over the airspace in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina. As a result, cancellations for flights to Denver, Baltimore, Dallas and Chicago were hit the hardest amongst travelers flying with Southwest Airlines.
As the various issues with Southwest Airlines continued to pile up, they are still working on operations after making cuts during the peak of COVID-19 , which hindered its ability to handle the initial shock of canceled flights. While Southwest flights were canceled back-to-back, other airlines were able to move forward with minimal cancelations of flights. Southwest had the highest number of cancelations amongst the other four major airlines. The pilot union under the airline blamed the company for its poor methods of transferring staff to different locations during the time frame of these disruptions. This is not the first incident and it seems as though the airline has neglected issues like this in the past.
Southwest Airlines expressed its condolences to its customers and employees for the number of flight cancellations and delays that took place this past weekend. Casey Murray, President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, made a statement to CNBC claiming that the reason for these issues with the airline was because of poor planning. Due to the thousands of flight cancelations and prior disruptions from the summer, the airline has already made some cut backs to its upcoming fall schedule.
This October, Southwest Airlines announced that it will be enforcing Biden administration’s vaccination policy. It requires federal employees and private companies with more than 100 employees, including major airlines such as Southwest, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or get tested weekly.
Other disruptions from the Southwest Airlines scandal sparked concerns through social media, making speculations that employees were calling out sick to protest. The airline has denied this and made comments to CNBC reporters that this issue had nothing to do with the cause of cancellations and delays of flights.
As a result of the aftermath of the airline’s operational failures, Southwest is considering making some scheduling cutbacks for the remainder of 2021. The airline had ambitions of expanding prior to the incident but it will have to scale back on its future goals for the company. While the airline has a devoted client base in previous years, it runs at risk of danger, losing those costumers if issues like this return in the long run. This could have a negative impact on the company, such as losing profits.