DALLAS - Weather in other parts of the country and mechanical issues have Southwest Airlines canceling hundreds of flights. The airline is blaming the maintenance problems on its mechanics’ union.
More than 900 Southwest flights nationwide were canceled or delayed on Wednesday. But the airline has not said how many of those affected flights are due to weather or maintenance issues.
The Dallas-based airline has ordered mechanics to come into work for an “operational emergency.” They were told to show up or be fired because an unprecedented number of aircraft are out of service for maintenance.
“[The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association] has a history of work disruptions,” the airline said in a statement. “Southwest has two pending lawsuits against the union. We will be investigating this current disruption and exploring all possible remedies.”
AMFA hit back late Tuesday night by issuing its own statement that points out an ongoing contract dispute.
“For Southwest’s leadership to connect the airline’s self-declared “operational emergency” to collective bargaining negotiations is simply an attempt to divert attention away from the airline’s safety issues,” the union said.
The result is hundreds of cancellations and delays for passengers.
“I do worry it will continue,” said Grace Auten, a delayed passenger. “I just hope it won’t cause any problems today and I hope they get it fixed in the future because Southwest is my favorite way to fly.”
The airline expanded its operational emergency to its Dallas maintenance hub on Tuesday after ordering mechanics in Houston, Phoenix and Las Vegas to show up or face termination with any unexcused absences. But winter weather in other parts of the country is also affecting flights.
Dan Laughman was trying to head home to Baltimore.
“It’s ugly back there,” he said. “So we got a later flight coming out of here because that way it gives them more time to get things cleaned up back there.”
Still, passengers say the issues aren’t affecting their choice to fly Southwest in the future.
“I’d rather have them catch it and pull the planes than to try and push something to keep everything moving,” Laughman said.
Roughly 11 percent of the airline’s operations on Wednesday were canceled.