DOT is investigating whether Southwest’s schedules were “unrealistic” during the holiday crisis

A Southwest Airlines passenger plane lands at Chicago Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois on December 28, 2022.

Kamil Krzaczynski | AFP | Getty Images

The Ministry of Transport announced on Wednesday that it was in the initial stages of an investigation Southwest Airlines‘Holiday crisis and examining whether airline schedules were unrealistic.

Southwest said it canceled more than 16,000 flights between Dec. 21 and 31 as it struggled to recover from severe winter weather, while executives said they needed to cancel more flights to stabilize operations. The company and unions have pointed to outdated scheduling platforms that were not designed to handle the number of flight changes that have occurred over the period.

“The DOT is also investigating whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic flight plans, which is considered an unfair and deceptive practice under federal law,” said a DOT spokesman. “The DOT will use the full extent of its investigative and enforcement powers to ensure consumers are protected, and that process will evolve as the Department learns more.”

Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg has previously vowed to hold Southwest accountable for the disruptions that have left hundreds of thousands of travelers stranded.

Southwest did not immediately comment. The airline is scheduled to announce results before the market opens on Thursday. DOT is investigating whether Southwest’s schedules were “unrealistic” during the holiday crisis

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