Southwest Airlines’ schedule returns to relative normalcy

Southwest Airlines returned to a relatively normal flight schedule on Friday as the focus shifted to correcting the situation in which more than 1 million passengers may have missed family connections or flights home during the holidays, many of whom were still missing luggage.

The Dallas carrier has canceled thousands of flights a day this week after last weekend’s winter storm, reporting fewer than 40 cancellations earlier Friday. While that’s still more than United, American and Delta combined, it’s progress for one airline after one of the most chaotic weeks in aviation history.

Federal regulators have vowed to scrutinize what happened at Southwest Airlines, with all eyes on outdated crew scheduling technology that kept crews out of place after the storm, essentially shutting down nearly all airlines. the operation of the company.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called the week’s disruption “unacceptable” in a letter to Southwest Airlines CEO Robert Jordan late Thursday .

“While weather can disrupt flight schedules, the thousands of Southwest flight cancellations in recent days were not due to weather,” Buttigieg wrote. Southwest. “

With crews and planes in place, Southwest began taking reservations again on Friday, and executives have begun the long road to regaining the trust of travelers.

Southwest Airlines’ Robert Jordan said in an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America Friday that after safety, there’s nothing more important than reimburseing customers and reuniting them with their bags.

“It affected a lot of people, a lot of customers, during the holiday season. It affected our employees. I’m very sorry for that,” Jordan said. “There’s almost no way to apologize because we love our customers, we love our employees, and we did impact their plans.

The air travel industry is just recovering from the pandemic, which reduced activity to the lowest level since the start of the jet age.

Jordan warned that this week’s debacle would “certainly” hit the airline when it reports fourth-quarter financial results in late January.

Shares of the company were down 8 percent for the week and fell another 1 percent before the market opened on Friday.

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