DOT investigates whether Southwest’s schedules were ‘unrealistic’ during holiday crisis

A Southwest Airlines passenger plane lands at Chicago Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on December 28, 2022.

Kamil Krzhachinsky | AFP | Getty Images

On Wednesday, the Department of Transportation said the investigation was in its early stages. southwestern airlines‘ holiday crisis and checking whether the carrier’s schedules were unrealistic.

Southwest said it canceled more than 16,000 flights between December 21 and 31 as it struggled to recover from harsh winter weather, while executives said they had to cancel even more flights to stabilize operations.

The company and unions pointed to outdated scheduling platforms that were not designed to handle the large number of flight changes that occurred during this period.

“DOT is also looking into whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic flight schedules, which is considered unfair and misleading under federal law,” a DOT spokesperson said. “DOT will make full use of its investigative and enforcement powers to ensure consumer protection, and this process will continue to evolve as the Department learns more.”

Transportation Minister Pete Buttigieg had previously vowed to hold Southwest accountable for disruptions that have left hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded.

“Our holiday flight schedule has been carefully designed and offered to our customers with the support of a robust execution plan and sufficient staff,” Southwest said in a statement late Wednesday. “We will continue to cooperate with any request or request from government oversight or elected officials. We focus on learning from this event, reducing the risk of a reoccurrence, and delivering the hospitality and superior service that our customers expect from us. “

Southwest plans to release results before the market opens on Thursday.

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