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Southwest Blames Gov't Shutdown For Lower Revenue As Flight Delays & Cancellations Continue

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Maintenance troubles, flight delays and cancellations continue at Southwest Airlines and it's having an impact on employees and customers.

The ongoing maintenance issues have led to a spike in flight cancellations and delays. In just the last two days, between operational downtime and winter weather across the country, Southwest has canceled more than 350 flights.

A CBS 11 News crew talked with a passenger at Dallas Love Field Airport whose flight to a funeral was delayed. Tony Olivarez said he's not sure if the issue was because of weather or maintenance. "That does concern me. To me it could be political reasons. I don't care about politics," he said. "I care about safety for us [passengers]. We just hope everything's maintained well."

According to Southwest, the airline usually has about 20 of their 750 planes out of service each day for unscheduled repairs. On Tuesday that number more than doubled.

Tuesday night the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) claimed Southwest was using the union as a scapegoat and trying to divert attention from safety issues.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines COO Mike Van de Ven blamed the union for the problems that he says they've caused before. "AMFA has a history of work disruptions, and Southwest has two pending lawsuits against the union," Van de Ven said. "We will be investigating this current disruption and exploring all possible remedies."

As Southwest deals with the flight cancellations and the "operations emergency" they declared last week, the airline cut its first-quarter revenue forecast on Wednesday, citing weak passenger demand and the longest partial U.S. government shutdown in history.

In the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Southwest said --

"The Company has continued to experience softness in passenger demand and bookings as a result of the government shutdown. As a result, the Company now estimates the negative revenue impact to first quarter 2019 to be approximately $60 million."

During the 35-day government security delays at airports across the country and for Dallas-based Southwest it also meant the launch of new jets and routes, including their much talked about service to Hawaii. And there are concerns about that new route. On Wednesday Goldman Sachs downgraded Southwest because of concerns the Hawaii route could be too costly.

Southwest shares tumbled $3.12, or 5.4 percent, by midday Wednesday.

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