Four charts that illustrate the Southwest Airlines crisis


Thousands of Southwest Airlines flights were canceled last week due to a blast of extreme cold weather. Complete melting Its flight structure. In the days since, the carrier’s fight for recovery has been slow, some passengers argue, and largely unsuccessful. But experts say Southwest’s mess is actually the culmination of problems that have been building for years.

Since Dec. 22, the affected airline has canceled more than half of its regular flight schedule, and as of late Wednesday 87% of all canceled flights in the U.S. were from Southwest alone, according to industry watchers FlightRadar24 and FlightAware.

The predicament has irritated the commuters caught the eye Government regulators say the week has been magnified as other major airlines recover from the bitter cold, snow and ice that gripped much of the U.S. over the holiday weekend.

The company apologized to its passengers and employees for the daily cancellations and cut its capacity by two-thirds on Thursday, according to a CNN review of airline data.

This week’s meltdown isn’t the first time the company has been in this predicament. In October 2021, Southwest canceled more than 2,000 flights over a four-day period. Southwest canceled flights after the airline blamed bad weather in Florida for the crisis Much longer than its competitors.

But much of the Southwest’s confusion may be the result of long-term problems unrelated to weather.

Chief among them are outdated internal processes and IT. Planning Organization of the Southwest Not much has changed Since the 1990s, according to Capt. Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.

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Southwest canceled two-thirds of its flights. See how passengers are doing

Southwest also acknowledges the company’s outdated infrastructure. “We talked very badly about modernizing the operation and the need to do that,” CEO Bob Jordan told employees in a memo obtained by CNN.

Over the years, the flight cancellation rate has tripled from 2013 to September 2022, according to the latest data from the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Tracks Performance of airlines and before the recent crisis.

The bureau has only released data up to September 2022. To ensure a fair comparison, CNN only analyzed the carrier’s data from January through September in previous years.

Cancellation rates between airlines vary from year to year, depending on weather and other factors such as Covid-19, resulting in major disruption across the industry in the early months of the pandemic in 2020.

But Southwest, like its rivals, has failed to keep up with the cancellations, according to bureau data.

In several years over the past decade, the airline had higher cancellation rates compared to other major airlines, the data shows.

This is not just a cancellation. Southwest has also seen its time percentage decline in recent years to its lowest point in a decade. As of September 2022, even before the carrier’s current struggles, only 7 of its 10 flights had arrived on time.

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