PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – While Southwest Airlines hoped to be back up to speed after canceling thousands of flights over the weekend, including almost 200 into or out of Phoenix, the cancelation continued Monday morning. According to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com, Southwest had canceled 360 flights as of 7:30 a.m. Monday. Twenty-one were at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
The trouble started Friday. Southwest then canceled more than 800 flights Saturday, and more than 1,100 Sunday.
Sky Harbor on Sunday confirmed delays and cancellations throughout the Southwest network. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said it was aware of the issue. It also said its pilots “are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.” There had been some chatter about employees reacting to the company's recent COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Employees have until Dec. 8 to get vaccinated, but they can seek approval to skip the shots due to medical or religious reasons.
Southwest Airlines tweeted a travel advisory Saturday more blaming “ATC issues and disruptive weather” in Florida for “a high volume of cancellations through the weekend.” ATC is air traffic control. The Dallas-based company advised affected travelers to check the status of their flights and take advantage of “self-service rebooking options” on its website.
ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation. We appreciate your patience as we accommodate affected Customers, and Customer Service wait times are longer than usual. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/o1scQJ5lLb— Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) October 9, 2021
Although Southwest said the issues are ATC and weather-related, other airlines were canceling far fewer flights than Southwest. On Saturday, for example, American Airlines canceled 66 flights nationwide, according to FlightAware.
In response to questions from Arizona's Family, Southwest Airlines sent the following statement:
"We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening. We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and Crews repositioned to take care of our Customers.
"With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged.
"We’re working diligently to accommodate our Customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience. We’re offering Customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel. We know the frustration flight cancellations are creating for our Customers and Employees and we apologize, and we again thank everyone for patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans."
In June, a network glitch forced Southwest to cancel and delay Phoenix flights for two days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.