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Southwest Air Faces Gridlock With Over 80% of Flights Scrapped or Late

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(Bloomberg) — Southwest Airlines Co. confronted crippling cancellations and delays, with more than 80% of its flights scrapped or late, as operational woes mushroomed in the wake of the massive winter storm that pummeled the US.

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More than 2,600 trips were wiped off the books Monday, making Southwest responsible for almost three-fourths of cancellations in the US. That made the biggest discount carrier an unhappy outlier in the US industry, where recovery was the watchword after a holiday weekend of travel tie-ups.

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Southwest apologized for the “unacceptable” disruptions, saying that although the airline was fully staffed for the holiday, 23 out of its 25 top airports were affected by the storm.

“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” the Dallas-based airline said in a statement. The storm “forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity.”

The storm over the weekend affected a wide swath of the US and Canada, with record snow totals in the Midwest and Buffalo, New York — the area hardest hit by the storm where as many as 27 people have been reported dead.   

Southwest canceled 66% of its flights Monday, according to flight tracker FlightAware, even more than the 42% of flights abandoned Sunday. By contrast, Delta Air Lines Inc. — which dumped 21% of flights on Sunday — had to drop only 8% of its flights Monday. FlightAware said 18% of Southwest’s flights were running late.


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