Over the weekend more than 2,000 Southwest Airlines flights were cancelled after the company announced a Dec. 8 deadline for staff to be vaccinated or face termination. The airline denied that the nixxed flights were a result of the announcement, but a pilot tells a different story.
With passengers stranded over the weekend from coast to coast, the Dallas based airline blamed the cancelations on a weather based disruption of service that left aircraft and crews out of scheduled positions.
However, timing of the cancellation chaos directly follows the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association’s (SWAPA) Friday petition to a federal court requesting the airline’s vaccination order be blocked.
More than 2,000 flights have been canceled since Saturday, with 1,400 delayed on Monday and 350 more slashed from the schedule the same day. Tuesday showed signs of improvement, with only 90 cancellations out of the day’s 3,300 scheduled flights.
Incoming CEO Bob Jordan denied that the stoppage was related to employees protesting the mandate.
‘There is absolutely no evidence of any kind of job action,” he commented. “Their trips are disrupted, they have unscheduled overnights and they have all the same types of impacts that our customers experience. If anything, I think they’ve been heroes through this trying to operate.”
SWAPA president Capt. Casey Murray echoed the sentiment, placing the blame “squarely” on the airline for how they manage their network.
“Once a little hiccup occurs due to the internal processes, our pilots aren’t getting to where they need to be,” he remarked. “We’ve been sounding this alarm for about four years and have seen very little approach to correcting it.”
According to former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, the cancellations were a direct response to the company’s vaccine mandate, but the pilot’s union cannot organize or acknowledge the sickout, as doing so would be considered illegal job action.
Berenson said an unnamed pilot, who’s identity he verified, said the anger internally at the company, from both employees and pilots, is “enormous,” and the pilots “don’t even have to talk to each other about what they’re doing.”
The pilot also believes that the government’s $25 billion bailout last year is making Southwest reluctant to defy the Biden administration.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson also insists the airline isn’t being truthful about the real reason behind the weekend’s cancellations.
“All of that is a lie, it’s not what happened. We’ve spoken to several people with direct knowledge of what actually did happen,” he said on Monday night. “We can tell you the shutdown of Southwest Airlines over the weekend was a direct consequence, it was a reaction to Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates.”
Outgoing CEO Gary Kelly blames Biden for compelling the mandate, which is against his “personal philosophy” that company’s shouldn’t impose forced inoculation on employees.
“I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate. I’m not in favor of that. Never have been,” Kelly commented. “But the executive order from President Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors, which covers all the major airlines, have to have a [vaccine] mandate … in place by Dec. 8, so we’re working through that.”
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