Southwest cancels more than 700 flights over winter weather

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By Dan Sears

Southwest Airlines cancelled more than 700 flights as of Monday afternoon, blaming unusually harsh winter weather.

Dallas-based Southwest topped the list of the airlines most affected by the snow and wind chills plaguing Texas and Louisiana, up to Michigan and west to Oregon, where a storm has left over 100,000 households without power.

Southwest cancelled roughly 18% of its schedule as of Monday evening, according to CNN Business.

The discount airline told the outlet that the delays had been pre-planned, and aren’t technology issues, as they were in 2022, when Southwest’s historic 10-day holiday meltdown say nearly 17,000 flights canceled and more than 2 million passengers stranded.

The snafu proved catastrophic for Southwest, which dished out over $1 billion, including $600 million in in refunds to passengers and a $140 million civil penalty handed down by the Department of Transportation last month — a fine 30 times larger than any the agency has previously handed down.

Southwest Airlines cancelled more than 700 flights, or roughly 18% of its flight schedule, as of Monday afternoon over winter weather. It was the most impacted airline, followed by United, which cancelled 13%, or 349, of its flights. Getty Images

Southwest’s scheduling changes were carried out “to anticipate forecasted operating conditions across a wide swath of our route map — everything from wintry precipitation including blizzard conditions, to airfield and airspace constraints, and dangerous wind chill environments that require rotating ground crews to limit exposure,” a spokesperson told CNN in a statement.

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The spokesperson added that cancellations and delays are expected to ease up considerably on Tuesday “as the storm moves East and the cold temperatures begin to moderate.”

Chicago and Denver as among the cities under will chill advisories from the National Weather Service — and both are major hubs for Southwest.

Dallas, where the airline is headquartered and boasts a 95% market share at the Dallas Love Field Airport, is also expected to face dangerous winter weather this week, according to CNN, citing the NWS.

Monday marked the most flight cancellations in one day since Southwest’s 2022 holiday meltdown, when 17,000 cancelled flights left more than 2 million passengers stranded. Getty Images

Representatives for Southwest did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

According to the agency, ice “seriously hampers the function of not only wings and control surfaces and propellers, but also windscreens and canopies, radio antennas, pilot tubes and static vents, carburetors and air intakes. Turbine engines are especially vulnerable.”

In addition, ice and snow buildup on the body of a plane adds “excessive weight [that] will cause aircraft to lose altitude,” per the NWS.

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Over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, more than 140 million people in the US were under wind chill alerts, from the Rockies to Central Texas, with temperatures in Memphis, Tenn., Dallas and Nashville expected to stay below freezing — record lows — for at least 72 consecutive hours as of Monday and Tuesday.

New York City also saw more than one inch of powder, breaking its longest snow drought in history.

The arctic conditions also reached New York City, which saw one inch of snow for the first time in more than 700 days. REUTERS

The five boroughs haven’t seen measurable snow accumulation since February of 2022. The average snowfall in a typical Big Apple winter is nearly 30 inches. 

Southwest isn’t the only airline being impacted by the arctic conditions: United Airlines canceled 349 of its flights on Monday, or 13% of its schedule, while Alaska Airlines canceled 166 flights, or 13%, according to FlightAware.

In total, airlines cancelled more than 3,000 flights on Monday and postponed an additional 8,600, per FlightAware data, marking the most cancellations in one day since Southwest’s meltdown from Dec. 23, 2022, to Jan. 1, 2023.

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Over the weekend, Saturday and Sunday each saw roughly 3,000 cancellations and more than 16,500 delays.

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