On Friday, Bloomberg reported,
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.
Starting on Saturday, Southwest flights began to be cancelled eventually topping nearly 2,000 at the time of this writing.
A Southwest press release stated “…we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.” In their press release, Southwest blamed “poor planning” and “external operational challenges” for the delays. Yet the evidence points to a deeper story developing around pushback against the airline’s vaccine mandates on its employees.
In a possible attempt at damage control, Southwest Airlines took to their twitter account Saturday as the cancellations began to rapidly pile up writing, “ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation.”
FAA spokesperson Steve Kulm said there were no staffing shortages reported.
“No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday,” Kulm said in a statement to KMGH. “Flight delays and cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday afternoon due to widespread severe weather, military training, and limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center.