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UPDATE: Southwest Airlines Cancels 1,800 Flights. MEDIA BLACKOUT Over Mandate Strike?


While rumors swirled about a media blackout of Jacksonville air traffic controllers walking off the job, Southwest Airlines reportedly had their own strike.

Thousands of Southwest flights were cancelled this weekend and stranded customers across the country.

And the mainstream media won’t say one word about the rumored COVID-19 injection mandate strike.

The media blames the cancellations on bad weather, air traffic control issues, and staffing shortages.

Our question for Southwest Airlines is what’s the reason for the staffing shortages?

What made staffing shortages severe enough to cancel 1,800 flights in one weekend?

From CNBC:

Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights this weekend, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of customers and stranding flight crews, blaming the meltdown on a combination of bad weather, air traffic control and its own shortage of available staff.

“I know this is incredibly difficult for all of you, and our Customers are not happy,” Alan Kasher executive vice president of daily flight operations told staff in a note on Sunday, which was seen by CNBC.

The airline blamed initial problems on bad weather and an “FAA-imposed air traffic management program.”

“Although we were staffed for the weekend, we could not anticipate the significant disruption that was created from unexpected ATC issues and bad weather across our Florida stations,” said Kasher.

Other airlines canceled relatively few flights. Southwest did not comment on the disparity.

The Federal Aviation Administration said there were a “few hours” of flight delays on Friday afternoon because of severe weather and staffing issues at Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center, which controls airspace in five parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.

According to an unnamed source, this was the reason for the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center disturbance.

For the bad weather, we had these updates from Floridians.

Doesn’t appear the bad weather theory holds up for 1,800 cancellations.

Was the real reason for the chaos a Southwest Airlines employee strike against the COVID-19 injection mandate?

Considering this legal action taken by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, the mandate strike theory makes more sense.

From Bloomberg:

Southwest Airlines Co. pilots asked a court to temporarily block the company from carrying out federally mandated coronavirus vaccinations until an existing lawsuit over alleged U.S. labor law violations is resolved.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association’s filing Friday also asked for an immediate hearing on the request before a federal court in Dallas, claiming the carrier has continued to take unilateral actions that violate terms of the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline-union relations. Those steps include the Covid-19 vaccination requirement.

“The new vaccine mandate unlawfully imposes new conditions of employment and the new policy threatens termination of any pilot not fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021,” the legal filing said. “Southwest Airlines’ additional new and unilateral modification of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement is in clear violation of the RLA.”

And the chaos impacted thousands of Southwest customers.

Speculation intensified over Southwest employees on strike due to the COVID-19 injection mandate.

PJ Media added this coverage:

It seems that there could be something further going on. It’s my understanding that a huge number of Southwest pilots have called in sick this weekend, much more than usual. It’s anyone’s guess what the cause of that is, but it follows the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) on Friday asking a court to block the airline from requiring vaccination, in anticipation of an upcoming federal mandate.

SWAPA had already filed a lawsuit against Southwest, claiming that the airline was violating labor laws. The union now doesn’t want the airline to be able to require vaccination (in line with the expected federal mandate) until existing issues are resolved. The union claims that the airline is taking unilateral action that violates the Railway Labor Act (including requiring vaccination), which is supposed to govern relations between airlines and unions.

Given the timing here, I have a hard time imagining that it’s a total coincidence that so many pilots are calling in sick this weekend.

The “sickout” is made infinitely worse because airports and airlines have yet to recover from pandemic-related labor shortages. Flight attendants and pilots are especially in short supply and even a few dozen pilots calling in sick could cause all kinds of problems in staffing.

The further issue with the airline industry is the domino effect when it comes to irregular operations. Airline operations are incredibly complex, and when a plane has a problem in one place, it can have huge issues down the line.

That’s what we’re seeing here. The delays and cancelations are also affecting other airlines besides Southwest. And experts are saying the problem may get worse before it gets better.

Of course, Southwest Airlines would want to keep this news of a pilot “sickout” under wraps. But this isn’t news to a lot of aviation experts, so why the news blackout?

To make matters more complicated for frequent flyers, it appears we have another potential strike in response to COVID-19 injection mandates.

Could American Airlines be next?

We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

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