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Southwest Airlines cancels 12 Detroit flights in two days

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

At least 12 Southwest Airlines in or out of Detroit Metro Airport were canceled, according to FlightAware, a third-party flight tracker. 

By Monday afternoon, only one of the canceled flights at Metro Airport still was on the Wayne County Airport Authority's website, a 4:15 p.m. arrival from Nashville, Tennessee. Several Southwest flights, those arriving to and departing from the airport, appeared as scheduled or indicated there were delays, according to the airport authority. 

Seven Detroit flights also were canceled on Sunday, according to FlightAware. 

The Metro Airport disruptions came as the Dallas-based airline canceled more than 1,800 flights over the weekend, according to reports from the Dallas Morning News. 

The airport authority said it did not comment on delays or cancellations from individual airlines, and Southwest did not have specific airport numbers to share Monday afternoon. 

Southwest canceled more than 360 flights — 10% of its schedule for the day — on Monday, and more than 1,000 others were delayed, according to FlightAware.

Shares of Southwest Airlines Co. closed down more than 4% Monday.

Weather was a cause of the flight disruptions that began Friday evening, according to airline spokesperson Dan Landson, as well as "other external constraints, which left aircraft and Crews out of pre-planned positions to operate our schedule on Saturday." 

Landson said this cascaded throughout the weekend and into Monday.

No other airlines reported widespread issues on the same scale. 

"The operational challenges were not a result of Southwest Employee demonstrations, as some outlets are reporting," added Landson, referring to claims that the airline's COVID-19 vaccine mandate led to a sickout. 

The pilots’ union also denied these reports, according to the Dallas Morning News. 

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, the paper reported, has sued the airline over the treatment of pilots in recent months. It said pilots were not intentionally causing a disruption to retaliate over the airline mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all employees to comply with federal government rules.

“SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions,” the union said in a statement.

The third straight day of large-scale cancellations left thousands of passengers stranded and upset.

“My concern is we had no explanation really that was, I feel, very legitimate or believable," said Brian Gesch of Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, who was traveling through Reagan Washington National Airport with his wife. He doubted that weather and air traffic controllers were the real issue. “So we are frustrated and missing a day of work.”

Associated Press contributed.