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Southwest Gets Warning From FAA To Repair Relationship With People Who Fix Their Planes

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)  -- The FAA is warning Southwest Airlines to repair their relationship with the people who fix their planes.

KCAL9's Sara Donchey reported from LAX about the airline's ongoing feud with their mechanics.

The fight between Southwest and the mechanics' union has been raging for some time but now the FAA is getting involved.

The FAA maintains the fighting -- bitter and very public -- could be bad news for passenger safety.

Southwest has sued their mechanics claiming they are unnecessarily taking planes out of service to help them get an edge in their ongoing contract dispute. But the mechanics union claims Southwest is ignoring major safety issues with its planes.

Dozens of Southwest flights have been delayed or canceled after an unprecedented number of planes have been taken out of service for repairs.

It's a practice that is a worrisome thing for some frequent fliers.

"It's very concerning," says Southwest customer Suzanne Motley, "I fly to LA about once a month from San Francisco to visit my parents so that's like very frequent. That feels like if anything is going wrong that increases my chances of getting affected by that."

The FAA is no longer sitting on the sidelines. Tonight they stepped into the fray with a stark warning. They're telling the two sides they need to get along or they could be endangering passengers.

The FAA letter read, in part:
"A breakdown in the relationship between the airline and the mechanics union raises concerns about the ongoing effectiveness of the airline's safety management system."

"I want to feel like I'm trusting the planes that I'm flying in. So it makes me very worried," Motley said.

Donchey spoke to another traveler who said safety is also on his mind -- but he has faith in the airline.

"Of course, I mean I always think about it -- it always crosses my mind just flying. But I trust them. I trust them 100 per cent," said Southwest customer Byron Payne.

The FAA wants to make it clear they are not taking sides in the dispute between Southwest and the mechanics. But they said they are keeping a closer eye on the airline and stepping up their oversight as the fight rages on.

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