Southwest Airlines announced their compliance with President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate on October 4. However, the weekend of October 9-11 has seen more than 2,000 flight cancellations and more than 3,000 delayed flights in response to the company’s edict. Southwest employees have until December 8 to submit to the COVID-19 vaccine or be let go, according to the airline.
Currently, Southwest denies that pilots have called in sick to protest, instead claiming weather delays are to blame and that the FAA experienced staffing issues with air traffic controllers on Friday, October 8. However, in a statement to Fox Business, the FAA denied weekend delays and claimed that any issues with the staffing of air traffic controllers had been sorted by Friday evening.
Notably, despite the claims of weather delays and FAA staffing issues, no other airline had as many cancellations or delays this weekend.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association also denied any collective action taken in protest on Saturday, stating, “SWAPA is aware of operational difficulties affecting Southwest Airlines today due to a number of issues, but we can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.”