By TOM GANTERT
THE CENTER SQUARE MANAGING EDITOR
(The Center Square) — In the wake of a federal investigation into how the airline handled operations during the snowstorm, Southwest Airlines announced it would do just 33% of its scheduled flights for the rest of the holiday week.
“We have made the decision to continue operating a reduced schedule by flying roughly one third of our schedule for the next several days,” Southwest Airlines stated in a news release on its website. The airline said it is the largest carrier in 23 of the top 25 travel markets in the U.S.
Southwest Airlines canceled more than 70% of its flights on Monday and more than 60% on Tuesday.
The U.S. Department of Transportation stated Dec. 26 on Twitter it would investigate the airlines’ practices during the winter storm.
“USDOT is concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays & reports of lack of prompt customer service,” the agency posted on Twitter. “The Department will examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan.”
Southwest Airlines responded to the criticism with a statement on its website.
“With consecutive days of extreme winter weather across our network behind us, continuing challenges are impacting our Customers and Employees in a significant way that is unacceptable,” the airline wrote. “And our heartfelt apologies for this are just beginning.”
On Tuesday, a Santa Barbara Airport representative declined to comment on Southwest Airlines specifically.
“In regard to all other delays or cancellations from the holiday weekend, we don’t have data in regard to the number of flights/pax impacted, but we did see this happen at SBA,” Angelica Daus, the Santa Barbara Airport marketing coordinator, said in a statement to the News-Press. “All members of our staff teams — Airport, Airline, Concessions, Rental Car, etc. — worked diligently and tirelessly to keep a clean and safe space for our passengers and provided the high quality level of service they were able to provide, given the uncontrollable situation.
“We are still seeing Christmas travel and expecting a busy New Year’s holiday as well,” she said. “Our reminder to ‘Arrive Early and Be Prepared’ is still important, and all tips and advice related to this can be found on our social media and website, www.flysba.com.”
News-Press Managing Editor Dave Mason contributed to this story.