Southwest Airlines apologized Monday for operational challenges causing widespread cancellations and long delays at Palm Springs International Airport and other airports nationwide, promising it is working to recover.
“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our customers and employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” Southwest said in a news release Monday. “We are working with safety at the forefront to urgently address wide-scale disruption by re-balancing the airline and repositioning crews and our fleet, ultimately to best serve all who plan to travel with us. And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning.”
Southwest had canceled more than 2,905 flights nationwide as of Monday evening, or about 71% of all its scheduled total, according to the tracking website FlightAware.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a statement in response to Southwest’s cancellations, noting that the department will be looking into the situation.
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays and reports of lack of prompt customer service,” the department tweeted. “The department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”
The airline said it was fully staffed late last week and prepared for the approaching Christmas weekend when severe weather swept across the continent.
“This forced daily changes to our flight schedule at a volume and magnitude that still has the tools our teams use to recover the airline operating at capacity,” Southwest said. “This safety-first work is intentional, ongoing, and necessary to return to normal reliability, one that minimizes last-minute inconveniences.”
Southwest admitted anticipating “additional challenges with an already reduced level of flights as we approach the coming New Year’s holiday travel period, and we are working to reach out to customers whose travel plans will change with specific information and their available options.”
Southwest added its employees and crews “are showing up in every single way. We are beyond grateful for that. Our shared goal is to take care of every single customer with the hospitality and heart for which we are known. On the other side of this, we will work to make things right for those we have let down, including our employees.”