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Southwest Airlines canceled over 1,800 flights this past weekend. Reports, skeptics, and Ted Cruz blamed the matter on an employee protest against Southwest’s vaccine mandate. Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly denies that’s the reason, though. Instead, Southwest blames the cancellations on air traffic control and weather issues.
In a change of character, Kelly took a shot at President Joe Biden while defending his company on CNBC.
“I’ve never been in favor of corporations imposing that kind of a mandate,” Kelly told CNBC. “I’m not in favor of that, never have been. But the executive order from President Biden mandates that all federal employees and then all federal contractors, which covers all major airlines, have to have a vaccine mandate in place by December 8.”
Kelly sounds like a fed-up American who is following the president’s order. I guess you can’t knock the guy. Most CEOs don’t have the spine to fight back anyway.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association has also denied that the flight cancellations are related to a pilot shortage.
“We can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions,” the SWPA says.
“Our Pilots will continue to overcome [Southwest] management’s poor planning, as well as any external operational challenges, and remain the most productive Pilots in the world.”
Southwest is experiencing its fifth consecutive day of problems and has canceled around 30% of its flights since the weekend. Still, Kelly says not to worry, that it takes time to get back to normal:
“By the end of the day, we have significant numbers of airplanes and flight crews that were totally out of position,” Kelly added. “And … as any aviation expert knows, it just takes several days to get everything back aligned.”
As always, drive or take a train to your next destination if you can.