Southwest Airlines president continues to blame airline mass cancellations due to bad weather and air traffic restrictions.
The company’s chief operating officer, Mike Van de Ben, said the logistics nightmare began to unravel last Friday when operations in southwestern Florida were shut down.
He said Friday’s troubles snowballed Saturday’s operations and continued the cascade while employees scrambled to catch up.
After Dallas-based airlines canceled more than 2,300 flights, angry passengers were forced to sleep on the airport floor for hours on long weekends.
“Weather and air traffic constraints weren’t an issue after Friday, but it took a few days to reset the network after the first challenge,” Van de Ben said in a statement.
Executives’ reasons for canceling thousands of flights contradict speculation that Southwest Airlines pilots took part in a weekend strike to boycott the company’s vaccination obligations.
“Despite widespread rumors and speculation, the weekend challenge isn’t the result of anomalous employee activity in the Southwest, and there’s no data to show why,” Van Deven said.
“Our employees worked bravely in these adverse conditions, and many came on holidays and made additional trips to help the airline recover.”
Many passengers said they found it unique that other major airlines were not overthrown by so-called weather and air traffic control issues.
Southwest Airlines is unusual among major airlines in that it has few connecting flights and uses the old-fashioned point-to-point “linear” route system for short-haul travel. Airlines offer few direct flights on longer routes. With this system, crew and aircraft are located in different locations, making it difficult to recover from delays.
“I’m sure you’re interested in why Friday’s challenge had a bigger impact on the Southwest than other airlines,” said Van de Ben. “In the beginning, round-trip flights to Florida were part of our schedule, and the turmoil to Florida spread rapidly throughout our network, given our point-to-point flights. . “
He states that 40-50% of Southwest Airlines’ plans travel to Florida daily, and the allocation of one in four crew members includes at least one stop in Sunshine. I added.
“One of our largest crew bases is at Orlando International Airport, which stopped air traffic for about seven hours on Friday, which allows aircraft and crew to flow into the network. “Prevented,” said Van de Ven.
As the airline continues to manage damage, it sends various amounts of vouchers to affected passengers.
However, some dissatisfied passengers refuse the certificate.
“I don’t want a $ 150 voucher,” said a Twitter user. “All airfares and non-refundable hotel fares not used due to Southwest Airlines’ blunder, as well as unused Park tickets for Magic Kingdom and Universal will not be refunded.
“A $ 150 travel voucher is a joke.”
Another addition: “Southwest is killing me … gave me a voucher, but I just want to get my money back.”
The president of Southwest Airlines said the company’s focus is now on hiring more people.
According to Van de Ven, the goal is to hire more than 5,000 employees by the end of the year.
“In addition, we continue to assess potential network schedule changes to mitigate operational risk when going on vacation,” he said.
“As we approach November, we certainly have more work to do. Our team is dedicated to doing that to support reliable operations.”
According to government statistics, the airline employed 62,000 workers before COVID. This is 8,000 more than the 54,000 employees working there as of August 2021.
Captain Casey Murray, head of the Southwest pilots’ union, blamed Snuff on the company’s management and denied that pilots were calling for illness all at once to protest their vaccination obligations.
Murray told CBS News that the incidence of illness in pilots “is consistent with what happened this summer.”
Chicago’s bride’s family missed their daughter’s Nevada wedding because a Southwest Airlines flight was cancelled.
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