Southwest Airways cancels 500 flights after second know-how drawback in two days

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7H4 takes off from Hollywood Burbank Airport on September 16, 2020 in Burbank, California.

AaronP / Bauer-Griffin | GC images | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines canceled 500 flights, 15% of its schedule, on Tuesday as it struggled with connectivity issues a day after a technical problem with a weather data provider delayed hundreds of flights.

The Federal Aviation Administration briefly issued a statewide ground stop for Southwest preventing their flights from starting to avoid overwhelming targets.

More than 1,690 Southwest flights were delayed Tuesday, nearly half of the airline’s schedule, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. The airline announced that operations returned to normal on Tuesday afternoon.

“Southwest is in the process of resuming normal operations after a brief pause in our flight activities due to intermittent performance problems with our network connectivity on Tuesday afternoon,” said Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz in a statement. “Our teams work quickly to minimize flight disruptions and customer impact. We value our customers’ patience as we work to get them to their destinations.”

Southwest said it is investigating the issue and has no reason to believe it is related to Monday’s issue.

Denver International Airport previously tweeted that Southwest had a “network connectivity problem” and warned travelers that flight delays are likely.

As of Monday, 1,541 Southwest flights, roughly 41% of the flight schedule, were delayed, according to FlightAware.

The airline said its operations were suspended on Monday evening after “intermittent performance issues” with its third-party weather provider, but told staff on Tuesday that it was in “relatively good shape” to resume operations.

The problem arose as airlines like Southwest fly increasing numbers of travelers as demand recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Freight forwarders are grappling with a surge in customer numbers and downsizing after offering buyouts and other packages to cut costs in the pandemic. For example, Southwest, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have warned travelers about long waits for customer service and encouraged them to take advantage of self-service options.

While Tuesday’s Southwest release appeared to have had a brief impact on systems, prolonged technology issues or outages can be costly. Delta estimated that a data center outage in August 2016, which resulted in approximately 2,300 cancellations in three days, cost approximately $ 150 million in pre-tax revenue that quarter.

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