Southwest Airlines cuts flights to avoid delays, cancellations

Airlines face staff shortages as travel picks up

FOX Business’ Jeff Flock on airport delays and canceled flights as shortages hit the skies.

Southwest Airlines is trimming down its flight schedule through the end of 2021 in an effort to cut down on delays and cancellations.

The company faces the same struggles as other major airlines while worker shortages and uncertain travel trends persist amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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STARTUP US AIRLINES SAY BOOKINGS SAG AS COVID CASES RISE

Southwest is cutting 27 flights per day that had been slated to take off between Sept. 7 and Oct. 6, and another 162 flights per day will be removed from the schedule between Oct. 7 and Nov. 5. After the adjustments, the average flights per day for those time periods will be 3,304 and 3,420, respectively.

Over the summer, Southwest took heat for canceling thousands of flights, slashing 40% of their schedule over just one weekend. A spokesperson for the airline told FOX Business at the time, "As the weather radar has been illustrating over the past few days, the cancellations are due to convective thunderstorms across the nation from Denver and Chicago down to Houston, Dallas, the Gulf Coast and Florida – all areas with our busiest flight schedules."

Southwest Airlines is trimming down its flight schedule through the end of 2021 in an effort to cut down on delays and cancellations. (Southwest Airlines/Stephen M. Keller)

"To any Southwest customer whose journey with us fell short of their expectation this summer, we offer our sincerest apologies," Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement on Thursday. "We’re confident these adjustments will create a more reliable travel experience."

The Dallas-based airline said it will also make similar moves through the rest of the year – except during times of heavy holiday travel.

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Southwest said earlier this month that the delta variant is hurting its business, pointing to a downturn in bookings and an increase in the cancellation of events nationwide over fears of another outbreak surge.

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