After days of flight cancellations due to freezing temps, snow, and generally bad weather over Christmas weekend, Southwest airlines continues to cancel thousands of flights, far more than any other airline. The struggling airline cancelled almost 3,000 flights Monday followed by 2,520 flights Tuesday accounting for 62% of its scheduled flights for the day.
The mass cancellations have not only stranded thousands of passengers, pilots, and flight attendants across the country, but has even surprised the company’s CEO. Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told the Wall Street Journal Monday night, “In all likelihood, we’ll have another tough day tomorrow as we work our way out of this. This is the largest-scale event I’ve ever seen.” The Dallas-based airline is currently blaming the cancellations on adverse weather and insufficient staffing.
Southwest released a statement regarding the cancellations saying, “With consecutive days o extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our Custoers and Employees in a significant way that is unacceptable.”
The abnormally high rate of cancellations and delays and reports of unacceptable customer service have prompted the US Department of Transportation to conduct a review of the cause of all the cancellations and the airline’s compliance with its customer service policy.
Due to the continued cancellations, Southwest shares fell 3.5% in premarket trading and with delays and cancellations expected to last until at least Wedensday, shares are expected to continue to fall.
On Monday, Southwest official, Chris Perry, told NPR that the airline would “stabilize and improve its operation” as the adverse weather improved, however, that does not appear to be happening as Southwest continues to cancel thousands of flights and baggage piles up at airports across the US.
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While passengers struggle to find new flights, get refunds issued, and track down lost luggage, it remains uncertain when Southwest will recover from the chaos of not only the winter storm but its own mismanagement. With the weather improving, current reports are that the mess will begin to clear up on Wednesday, although there seems to be little hope of that for the thousands of Southwest customers and employees stranded in airports across the country.