By John Pullen 01/03/2022 2403 views



As Winter Storm Frida approaches the east coast, Southwest Airlines has taken proactive measures by canceling many flights from Baltimore and the surrounding region. With strained resources and snowy weather anticipated to sweep through their Baltimore hub, Southwest has canceled more than 135 flights from the Maryland gateway as inclement weather and COVID-19 complicate their operations.

 

Photo of N8577Z - Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 at CMH
Photo: AeroXplorer | Mark S.

 

Southwest Airlines wrote in a statement to AeroXplorer:
 

"Our Planners continue their work to anticipate operational challenges as Winter Storm Frida moves across our system and pushes into the Eastern seaboard. These are proactive cancellations in anticipation of the winter weather expected tomorrow. As always, we have safety top-of-mind and, for us, that also means keeping people from driving to airports to wait on long delayed flights whenever we can avoid that, so these cancellations were proactively made soon, and communicated immediately, allowing people to self-serve online or on the phone, without standing in a line, etc."

 

Photo of N567WN - Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 at SAT
Photo: Luke Ayers

 

Baltimore is an important city for Southwest Airlines. In terms of passengers carried, the city is Southwest's fifth-largest destination. As a northeast gateway, the airport oftentimes serves as a connecting point for passengers looking to travel beyond the northeast to other destinations in their network. Because of the high volume of flights that arrive and depart from BWI for the carrier, cancellations and operational difficulties can easily spiral throughout the rest of Southwest's system. They can also cause crowds of unhappy, stranded customers in the airport, something the airline seems to be trying to avoid by canceling flights early.

 

Photo of N8541W - Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 at MKE
Photo: Jared Jamel

 

Throughout last year, Southwest suffered two operational meltdowns that resulted in thousands of flights being canceled across their network. These meltdowns came as a result of ambitious growth throughout the pandemic, which, when combined with staffing shortages and a surge in demand, stretched the carrier too thin. By proactively canceling flights at their northeast gateway prior to the snowstorm, the airline is likely trying to avoid further airport chaos and customer dissatisfaction.

 

As staffing shortages and other challenges continue during the pandemic, airline networks are more sensitive and vulnerable to environmental changes. Southwest's flight cancellations just highlight these difficulties.  






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