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Southwest cancels other airlines thousands of flights: DOT launches review

    Ella Silverstein gasps for air while waiting in line to book a flight in front of the Southwest Airlines ticket counter at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado on Thursday, December 22.

Passengers wait for a Southwest Airlines flight at Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, on December 22. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

Several thousand flights were canceled on Monday as the effects of winter storms and operational challenges continued to affect holiday travel.

The big picture: Ministry of Transport tweeted that it would look into the actions of Southwest, which accounted for a large number of the more than 3,900 flight cancellations and 8,200-plus delays within, in or out of the United States as of late Monday, per FlightAware data.

A screenshot of a Southwest Airlines tweet saying they are experiencing high call volumes.
Photo: Southwest Airlines/Twitter
  • The DOT said it is “concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable frequency of cancellations and delays and reports of a lack of prompt customer service” and “will investigate whether cancellations were controllable and whether Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”

With the numbers: Southwest canceled nearly 70% of its 2,886 flights Monday and 60% of about 2,400 scheduled Tuesday flights, according to FlightAware.

  • The Dallas-based airline has canceled about 8,000 flights from Thursday to Monday, according to the flight tracking website.

What we’re looking at: Southwest CEO Bob Jordan told the Wall Street Journal Monday night that the airline would operate just over a third of its schedule Tuesday and Wednesday to ease the situation.

  • The reduced capacity can be extended further if necessary, as airlines prepare for the New Year holidays.
  • “We had a tough day today. In all likelihood, we’ll have another tough day tomorrow as we work our way out of this,” Jordan told the Journal. “This is the biggest event I’ve ever seen.”

What they say: Southwest issued a statement Monday apologizing for the disruption.

  • “With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, ongoing challenges are significantly impacting our customers and employees in a way that is unacceptable,” Southwest said.
  • “We are working with security at the forefront to quickly resolve widespread disruptions by rebalancing the airline and repositioning our crews and fleet, ultimately to best serve everyone who plans to travel with us. And our heartfelt apologies for this have only just begun.”
  • Representatives for Southwest did not immediately respond to Axios’ request for comment.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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