The Transportation Department is in the initial stages of an investigation into Southwest Airlines’ travel collapse, and it will look into whether executives overscheduled flights, a spokesperson said.
Southwest canceled thousands of flights, cutting around two-thirds of its daily schedule, for days as it struggled to recover from winter conditions even as other airlines managed. Passengers were stranded and rushed to find other ways to get home.
The Department of Transportation is “probing whether Southwest leaders have engaged in unrealistic flight scheduling that under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice,” the spokesperson said.
Southwest said in a statement Wednesday that it was ready, but there was a massive winter storm. He said he would continue to cooperate with all investigations.
“Our vacation flying program has been carefully designed and delivered to our customers with the support of a solid plan to operate it and with sufficient staffing,” Southwest said. “Our systems and processes became stressed as they worked to recover from days of flight cancellations at 50 airports following an unprecedented storm.”
The Department of Transportation said it is also making sure Southwest provides refunds and refunds to passengers.
“The DOT will use the full extent of its investigative and enforcement power to ensure consumer protection and this process will continue to evolve as the Department learns more,” the spokesperson said Wednesday. of the department by e-mail.
The cancellations, which came after the Christmas holidays, infuriated passengers. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called them unacceptable and said his department would review its planning system.
Southwest canceled about 11,000 flights in the week after Christmas and pegged the cost of the fiasco at more than $800 million.
Southwest called his performance unacceptable and apologized. CEO Bob Jordan said this month that the company is expected to spend $1 billion on “investments, upgrades and maintenance of our IT systems.”