The weather did it.
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 1,800 flights this weekend, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of customers and stranding flight crews — the airline blamed the meltdown on a combination of bad weather, air traffic control issues and its own shortage of available staff.
“I know this is incredibly difficult for all of you, and our Customers are not happy,” Alan Kasher executive vice president of daily flight operations told staff in a note on Sunday, which was seen by CNBC.
The airline said initial problems on bad weather and an “FAA-imposed air traffic management program” were to blame.
“Although we were staffed for the weekend, we could not anticipate the significant disruption that was created from unexpected ATC issues and bad weather across our Florida stations,” said Kasher.
Other airlines canceled relatively few flights. Southwest did not comment on the disparity.
The Federal Aviation Administration said there were a “few hours” of flight delays on Friday afternoon because of severe weather and staffing issues at Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center, which controls airspace in five parts of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday,” the FAA said. “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.”
Southwest’s major destinations of Denver, Baltimore, Dallas Love Field and Chicago Midway were among the hardest hit by the cancellations on Sunday.