Southwest Airlines Cancels More Than 1800 Flights; Blames Air Traffic Control Issues, Weather

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BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - OCTOBER 11: Travelers wait to check in at the Southwest Airlines ticketing counter at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on October 11, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. Southwest Airlines is working to catch up on a backlog after canceling hundreds of flights over the weekend, blaming air traffic control issues and weather. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Since Friday, Southwest Airlines has canceled more than 1800 flights, igniting speculation about a massive walkout of staff after the company announced mandatory vaccination for all employees.

Instead, Southwest blamed the cancellations on the weather, ATC understaffing,  and a faulty software program for causing all the trouble.

The plagued airliner said in a statement on Saturday that it was working to “return to close to normal operations as we move into Sunday,” The Epoch Times reported.

“We are working hard behind the scenes to minimize challenges and fully recover the operation as we take care of displaced Crews and Customers as quickly as possible,” the company said

Problems started on Friday afternoon when bad weather conditions in the southeast compelled the airliner to revoke 808 flights on Saturday and another 1044 on Sunday. On Monday, approximately 350 Southwest flights were canceled, according to airline tracker FlightAware. 

“We experienced significant impact in the Florida airports yesterday (Friday) evening after an FAA-imposed air traffic management program was implemented due to weather and resulted in a large number of cancellations,” Southwest said Saturday.

However, other airliners that operate in the same region did not seem to be affected. Consequently, many customers were not convinced by Southwest’s explanation and demanded openness and a clear explanation of why the airliner failed to honor their commitments.

Missionary Spencer Smith, said on his YouTube channel, “The great push-back against these globalist tyrants is happening. They are telling this is because of storms and tower problems, air-traffic issues. It’s a hunk of garbage. It’s because they are mandating vaccines upon their employees.”

Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) President Casey Murray dismissed all speculation of massive sick leaves being the cause of the dramatic number of recalled flights. Some 28 percent of all Southwest’s scheduled flights were canceled on Sunday.

Murray said in a statement: “There are false claims of job actions by Southwest Pilots currently gaining traction on social media and making their way into mainstream news,” adding that, “I can say with certainty that there are no work slowdowns or sickouts either related to the recent mandatory vaccine mandate or otherwise.”

He added that Southwest “has claimed that the immediate causes of this weekend’s meltdown were staffing at Jacksonville Center and weather in the southeast U.S., but what was a minor temporary event for other carriers devastated Southwest Airlines because our operation has become brittle and subject to massive failures under the slightest pressure.”

Southwest is not the only airline facing possible staff shortages. Vision Times reported on Oct. 1 that United Airlines admonished nearly 600 of its employees after mandating that they take a COVID-19 vaccine by October 2, or else they would be terminated.

“For the less than 1 [percent] of people who decided not to get vaccinated, we’ll, unfortunately, begin the process of separation from the airline per our policy… This was an incredibly difficult decision, but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority,” stated a memo obtained by The Epoch Times.

“The pandemic is now killing more than 2,000 people per day—a 65 [percent] increase in just the past 30 days—and the most effective way to keep our people safe is to make sure they’re vaccinated,” a United spokesperson stated.