Southwest pilots' union president blames airline for widespread cancellations: "We've been sounding this alarm for about four years"
Southwest Airlines is experiencing a fifth straight day of widespread cancellations. Early numbers show 7% of Southwest flights have been canceled today. On Monday, 435 Southwest flights were canceled, bringing the total above 2,000 since Friday.
Some Southwest passengers have had to pick between paying for other transportation or staying put for days.
It's not clear what is causing the disruption but the delays and cancelations began shortly after the pilot's union tried to block Southwest's new COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
When asked by CBS News if there was any chance the disruption could have been caused by pilots calling out sick over the company's vaccine mandate, Capt. Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said that was not the case and that the airline's pilot sick rate for this weekend was "right in line with what was occurring this summer."
"So outside of air traffic control and weather, you point the blame squarely where?" CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett asked.
"Squarely on Southwest, I point to how they manage the network and how their I.T. also supports that network. Once a little hiccup occurs due to the internal processes, our pilots aren't getting to where they need to be. We've been sounding this alarm for about four years and have seen very little approach to correcting it," Murray said.
Southwest has declined to comment on Murray's claims. It has confirmed staff shortages, but not due to the mandate. The airline says that's been the case since before the pandemic, and blames weather and air traffic control issues for cancellations.
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