‘We’re sorry’: Southwest Airlines offers more details on extensive travel disruptions

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DALLAS (KDVR) – “We’re sorry”: That’s the main message Southwest Airlines reiterated on Thursday in an official statement after cancelling and delaying thousands of flights this week.

“There’s a lot to say about what happened over the last several days, but we’ll start with the most important message: we’re sorry. Cancelling thousands of flights & displacing Customers isn’t what we want for you, nor is it what you should expect from us,” the airline tweeted Thursday morning.

Southwest President and COO Mike Van de Ven offered an explanation on the airline’s website, saying the operational disruption began on Friday and was initially created by weather and air traffic constraints that stalled Florida operations.

“As a result, our aircraft and Crews were not in their pre-planned positions to operate our schedule on Saturday,” Van de Ven wrote. “Unfortunately, the out-of-place aircraft and Crew resources created additional cancelations across our point-to-point network that cascaded throughout the weekend and into Monday and Tuesday.”

Van de Ven continues, saying weather and air constraints were not the source of issues beyond Friday, but it took the airline several days to reset their network.

Additionally, Southwest was hard hit specifically because operational issues were happening in Florida, according to Van de Ven: “Flying to and from Florida is a large portion of our schedule, and disruptions to Florida quickly spread throughout our network given our point-to-point flying. In fact, approximately 40-50% of Southwest’s aircraft fly through Florida on any given day. 

Additionally, about a quarter of Southwest’s Crew assignments include at least one Florida city.”

Van de Ven also defended Southwest employees, saying that “Despite widespread rumors and speculation, the weekend challenges were not a result of unusual Southwest Employee activity, and there simply is nothing in our data that indicates that particular reason.”

Below is a statement from Southwest Airlines President and CEO Gary C. Kelly:

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