DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines’ planes were briefly grounded nationwide Tuesday due to what the airline described as an intermittent technology issue, grounding more than 1,800 flights just four months after the airline suffered a much larger meltdown. On the rush of Christmas travel.
The suspension of flights departing late in the morning has been lifted, according to Southwest and the Federal Aviation Administration, but not before traffic at airports from Denver to New York City is backed up.
“Southwest has resumed operations after a temporary cessation of flight activity this morning to work through data connectivity issues resulting from a firewall failure,” the Dallas-based airline said in a prepared statement. “Early this morning, the vendor-provided firewall crashed, and the connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lost.”
Southwest urged customers to check the status of their flights and “explore self-service options” for travel as the airline works to restore business.
By midday on the East Coast, more than 40% of all Southwest flights were delayed, and the airline accounted for nearly two-thirds of all delays nationwide. On the plus side, only about a dozen Southwest flights have been cancelled, in line with other major airlines, according to FlightAware.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg retweeted an FAA post about the ground station, adding: “We are here to ensure strong protections for travelers when airline failures like this affect their plans.” He referred travelers to the Department of Transportation’s Passenger Rights Checklist, and his press secretary noted that “no other airlines are experiencing disruptions”.
Tuesday’s delays added to the image of the airline that has suffered the most from most technological problems.
“It was a ground stop for 17 minutes. This won’t have a long-term impact on Southwest’s reputation,” said Henry Hartveldt, travel analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. “What matters now for Southwest is getting to the case and doing everything they can to ensure they don’t Incidents like this will happen again.”
The damage from Tuesday’s incident will be minor but will further erode Southwest’s image, said Rob Britton, a former American Airlines executive who studies crisis management at Georgetown University. Southwest, he said, did not invest in technology while it was growing rapidly, and suffers from an “isolational culture” that “prevents them from looking for solutions abroad.”
In December, Southwest canceled nearly 17,000 flights in a 10-day Christmas period — wrecking the holiday travel plans of more than 2 million people — when a winter storm halted operations in Denver and Chicago and the company’s system for rescheduling pilots and flight attendants. . was soaked.
These cancellations cost the airline more than $1 billion and led to an ongoing Department of Transportation investigation.
Airline unions said they had warned management of problems with the crew scheduling system after the previous crash in October 2021.
CEO Robert Jordan has embarked on a campaign to repair the airline’s damaged reputation. Southwest said last month it would add snow removal equipment and increase staffing During winter weather, it is cold enough to limit the amount of time ground workers can be outside.
Southwest Airlines was the biggest loser among major airlines Monday, down more than 1%.
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