Southwest Airlines flight disruptions extend with hundreds of cancellations and delays

Southwest Airlines faced a fourth day of disruptions Monday – after canceling hundreds of flights over the weekend – a sign of airlines’ struggles to capitalize on a growing appetite for travel amid a pandemic that has scrambled the industry and left some carriers stretched thin.

Southwest said the airline was working to return flight operations to normal as it dealt with a backlog of passengers from more than 2,000 canceled flights and thousands more that were delayed since Friday. The airline on Monday canceled 363 flights – about 10 percent of scheduled departures – while more than 1,300 were delayed, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

The disruptions inconvenienced, angered and stranded tens of thousands of passengers. The cancellations and delays Monday at the nation’s fourth-largest domestic carrier were a costly extension of disruptions that stressed travel during the long holiday weekend.

The latest problems mirrored disruptions that travelers encountered over the summer in a scenario that has become increasingly common as the industry recovers from the pandemic. Airlines have shed staff during the pandemic, and analysts say scheduling problems can more easily snowball, leading to mass flight cancellations.

Southwest reiterated Monday that inclement weather and air traffic control disruptions in Florida on Friday triggered the problems. Federal regulators said that air traffic control staffing shortages caused delays out of Florida but that airlines generally are experiencing operational issues because of their own staffing and aircraft issues.

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Source: Chron