Southwest Airlines blames mechanics union for canceled flights

The budget carrier has grounded a record number of aircraft due to maintenance concerns. As consumer ire rises, deep tensions within the organization have surfaced.

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Southwest Airlines is scrambling to provide answers after a CBS report painted a dire picture for the airline’s daily operations.

With an “unprecedented number” of planes grounded, customers have complained about canceled flights and poor service. A leaked internal memo described a state of “operational emergency.”

CBS reported:

Southwest faces what its own managers call an operational state of emergency, due to an unusually high number of the airline’s Boeing 737s being taken out of service for maintenance.

In a memo obtained by CBS News, the airline called for all hands on deck, and warned that maintenance employees could face termination for unexcused absences.

The spike in out-of-service planes follows our “CBS This Morning” investigation into mechanics’ complaints of undue pressure to put aircraft back in service faster, reports correspondent Kris Van Cleave.

CBS tried to put the declaration of an operational emergency in context.

It continued:

Such a declaration is not unprecedented, but it is rare.

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