More than 350 flights of Southwest Airlines were cancelled on Monday, which left scores of passengers stranded and steaming from California to the East Coast. The flights were cancelled following a weekend of major disruption due to bad weather and air traffic control issues. Meanwhile, the pilots union accused the company of a botched response to what it said would have been a minor challenge for other airlines.
Monday’s cancellations amounted to 10 per cent of Southwest’s schedule, and at least 1,400 other flights, or roughly 40 per cent, were delayed, according to the FlightAware tracking service. Shares of Southwest Airlines Co. fell 4.2 per cent.
The widespread disruptions began shortly after the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, representing 9,000 pilots, asked a federal court on Friday to block the airline’s order that all employees get vaccinated. The union argued that Southwest must negotiate over the issue because it could involve sick leave or disability if pilots have a reaction to the vaccine.
“We are not anti-vaccination at all, but our pilots are extremely worried about how their medicals are going to be handled” if they are unable to fly, union president Casey Murray said. Murray said pilots had not staged a sickout because of the vaccine mandate.