More than 2,000 Southwest Airlines flights delayed after temporary ground stop

 Wednesday, April 19, 2023 


More than 2,100 Southwest Airlines flights were delayed Tuesday by technical problems with the embattled air carrier’s systems.

The Federal Aviation Administration paused Southwest departures at the airline’s request Tuesday morning while the company worked to resolve “data connection issues resulting from a firewall failure,” a Southwest spokesperson said in a statement.

Early this morning, a vendor-supplied firewall went down and connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lost, the statement said.

In December, the airline had a multi-day meltdown when it cancelled nearly 17,000 flights in a 10-day stretch around Christmas — wrecking holiday travel plans for well over 2 million people.

A winter storm had shut down Southwest’s operations in Denver and Chicago and the airline’s system for rescheduling pilots and flight attendants was overwhelmed.

Those cancellations cost the airline more than $1 billion and led to an ongoing Transportation Department investigation.

The airline’s unions have said they warned management about problems with the crew-scheduling system after a previous meltdown in October 2021.

Rob Britton, a former American Airlines executive who teaches crisis management at Georgetown University, told the press that Southwest has underinvested in technology while growing rapidly, and that the carrier suffers from an “insular culture” that keeps them from looking outside for solutions.

CEO Robert Jordan has embarked on a campaign to repair the airline’s damaged reputation.

Southwest said last month it would add deicing equipment and increase staffing during winter weather that is cold enough to limit the amount of time that ground workers can stay outside.

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