Southwest cancels more than a thousand flights, cites air-traffic control issues

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Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights this weekend amid air traffic control issues and weather, and the airline has not given an update as to whether the cancellations may continue.

"ATC issues and disruptive weather have resulted in a high volume of cancellations throughout the weekend while we work to recover our operation," Southwest said in a statement on Twitter Saturday. "We appreciate your patience as we accommodate affected customers, and customer service wait times are longer than usual."

According to FlightAware, a website that tracks cancellations and delays, Southwest has canceled 1,018 flights and had 597 flights delayed on Sunday alone. On Saturday, the airline canceled 808 flights and had 1,187 flights delayed. 

Southwest gave FOX Business a longer statement on Sunday afternoon. 

"We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening," the spokesperson told FOX Business.

"We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers," the spokesperson added. "With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged. We’re working diligently to accommodate our customers as quickly as possible, and we are grateful for their patience."

"We’re offering customers added flexibility to explore self-service rebooking options on Southwest.com, where they can get updates on the status of their travel. We know the frustration flight cancellations are creating for our customers and employees and we apologize, and we again thank everyone for their patience as we work first to be safe, and second to be as quick as possible in solving disrupted plans," the spokesperson concluded.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson explained that the air-traffic control issues ended on Friday.

"No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday," an FAA spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement on Sunday. "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."

"Some airlines continue to experience scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place. Please contact the airlines for details about current flight schedules," the spokesperson added.

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FOX Business also reached out to the two airports most impacted on Sunday — Denver International Airport and Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport. DIA did not respond, while BWI referred FOX Business to Southwest.

FOX Business' Grady Trimble contributed to this report.

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