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Transportation Department is investigating Southwest Airlines, concerned about possible over-scheduling issues

The question is whether Southwest is scheduling more flights than its staff and resources can realistically handle

SHARE Transportation Department is investigating Southwest Airlines, concerned about possible over-scheduling issues
Four Southwest Airlines passenger jets sit at their gates at Chicago’s Midway Airport.

Four Southwest Airlines passenger jets sit at their gates at Chicago’s Midway Airport as flight delays stemming from a computer outage at the Federal Aviation Administration has brought departures to a standstill across the U.S. Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Chicago. The U.S. Transportation Department is investigating Southwest after the holiday travel debacle that left thousands of passengers stranded at airports throughout the holidays.

Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press

The U.S. Transportation Department is investigating Southwest Airlines after a holiday travel debacle that left thousands of Southwest passengers stranded at airports throughout the holidays.

The question is whether Southwest is scheduling more flights than its staff and resources can realistically handle.

“DOT is in the initial phase of a rigorous and comprehensive investigation into Southwest Airlines’ holiday debacle that stranded millions,” a spokesperson for the department said, per CNN.

What happened to Southwest Airlines flights during the holidays?

In the week following Christmas, Southwest canceled a total of nearly 11,000 flights and estimated the loss was around $800 million for the airline, NBC News reported. Cancellations were due, at least in part, to large storms in the Midwest, where many Southwest flights operate.

“Our holiday flight schedule was thoughtfully designed and offered to our customers with the backing of a solid plan to operate it, and with ample staffing,” Southwest said in a statement, per NBC News. “Our systems and processes became stressed while working to recover from multiple days of flight cancellations across 50 airports in the wake of an unprecedented storm.”

However, most other airlines recovered and were able to run flights as regularly scheduled, but “Southwest’s technology was unable to process all the flight changes and crews had to call the carrier to get rescheduled,” CNBC reported.

What was in the Southwest’s earnings report?

On Thursday, Southwest Airlines released its financial report for the last three months and reported $220 million losses and claimed the holiday travel fiasco could end up costing the company $350 million in revenue during the first quarter of this year, according to The New York Times.