Southwest has had abnormally high cancellations for a week now. The airline declared an operational emergency covering four major maintenance hubs, including Las Vegas, on Feb. 15 amid a long-running labor dispute with its mechanics. It added another city, Dallas, to the emergency status on Tuesday. The airline has ordered all maintenance hands on deck to get planes back in service and said mechanics who call in sick will need a doctor’s note.
Tensions on that front escalated this week when Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven blamed the problem on the union representing Southwest’s 2,400 mechanics, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association. The group has been in negotiations with Southwest for a new contract since 2012. A tentative agreement was rejected by union members last fall.
“Southwest Airlines scapegoating of its expert aircraft maintenance technicians does not bode well for the airline’s safe operations,” Bret Oestreich, national director of AMFA, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Safety is, and always will be, our number one priority.”
Passengers aren’t happy with the ongoing issues from normally reliable Southwest.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Southwest Airlines cancels nearly 400 flights as maintenance woes, winter storms linger