Droves of flight delays and cancellations continued Monday for Southwest Airlines following a weekend of disrupted operations blamed on air traffic control issues and weather.
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The carrier canceled nearly 350 flights as of 9 a.m. ET, according to flight tracker FlightAware. Meanwhile, more than 300 flights have already been delayed, according to the data.
Even still, the Texas-based carrier told FOX Business in an updated statement Monday morning that it is running “closer to normal operation” despite facing continued weather challenges.
“Although we have some new weather in parts of our system, today’s operation has vastly improved from the weekend, with a much smaller number of cancellations linked to our weekend recovery efforts,” the carrier said.
Monday’s issues come just after the carrier canceled more than 1,000 flights, or 29% of its schedule, on Sunday alone. On Saturday, the airline canceled 808 flights and had 1,187 flights delayed.
In an emailed statement, Southwest said it had experienced weather challenges in its Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, which were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, which triggered delays and prompted significant cancellations beginning Friday evening.
The issues were “not a result of Employee demonstrations, as some have reported,” the airline clarified.
“To recap the weekend cancellations, the bad weather and ATC issues in Florida, a large operation for us, on Friday night created significant flight disruptions throughout our network and we spent the weekend working to recover from the high number of displaced Crews and aircraft,” the carrier said.
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Southwest issued an update Monday afternoon, extending “a tremendous apology” to customers and employees, saying the company has “been working diligently to restore stability to the network, and we are experiencing less disruptions on Monday.”
The airline reiterated that “the operational challenges were not a result of Southwest Employee demonstrations.”
Droves of passengers aired their frustrations over Twitter.
“I was led to believe Southwest Airlines ran a very efficient operation, my experience last couple days confirms the opposite,” one passenger tweeted.
Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz blamed the delays and cancellations on what he says is Biden’s “illegal vaccine mandate a work!”
“Suddenly, we’re short on pilots & air traffic controllers,” the Republican senator tweeted.
SOUTHWEST CANCELS MORE THAN A THOUSAND FLIGHTS, CITES AIR-TRAFFIC CONTROL ISSUES
However, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, which filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the airline’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, quickly clarified that it had no connection to the cancellations and delays.
“SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions,” the organization said in a statement Saturday. “Our Pilots will continue to overcome SWA management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges, and remain the most productive Pilots in the world.”
SOUTHWEST CANCELS MORE THAN 1,000 FLIGHTS, CRUZ SAYS IT’S BIDEN’S ‘ILLEGAL VACCINE MANDATE AT WORK’
Likewise, the FAA told FOX Business in a statement that there haven’t been any air traffic staffing shortages reported since Friday.
“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 FAA said.
The Texas-based carrier is allowing customers to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel.
Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil, Breck Dumas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.