Southwest Airlines canceled over 2,000 flights between this Friday and Monday, according to CNN.
The value air travel provider reportedly attributed the issues they faced getting flights back on schedule to FAA traffic conflicts and scheduling issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. They said it was a “more difficult and prolonged,” process than it would have been otherwise.
“With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged,” they said in a statement.
The FAA issued a statement saying that the issues were limited.
“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,” the agency said. It attributed the difficulties more to crews being out of place than regulatory issues. Spirit and American Airlines reportedly canceled a mere fraction of the flights canceled by Southwest during the same time period.
The cancellations came shortly after the airline enacted a vaccine mandate causing some to theorize that the policy may have led to a significant shortage of available employees.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association blamed “management’s poor planning” for the mass cancelations in a statement.
Reportedly some of the consumers impacted by the cancellations lost money on accommodations and reservations that were dependent on them arriving on time. Others were allegedly forced to rent cars to travel far distances to their reservations to avoid missing out on work or planned activities.
“We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers,” Southwest claimed in a statement.
Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly issued a formal apology for the inconvenience.
“To any Southwest customer whose journey with us fell short of their expectation this summer, we offer our sincerest apologies,”he said in a statement. “We’re confident these adjustments will create a more reliable travel experience.”