Southwest Airlines Says Union Mechanics Causing Slow Operations

Southwest Boeing 737 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

After dealing with over a week of flight delays and cancellations due to aircraft maintenance issues, Southwest Airlines revealed an internal investigation revealed a small contingent of union mechanics were working behind the scenes to slow operations.

According to the Dallas News, Southwest officials called on the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) to “take immediate action to stop this activity.” The airline wants to work with the union to resolve the “dramatic and highly unusual spike” in aircraft downtime.

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Negotiations between Southwest and its mechanics’ union has lasted more than six years, but a deal has yet to be reached. AMFA national director Bret Oestreich said the union “firmly rejects” the carrier’s allegations.

“We fully respect each mechanic’s right and obligation to identify legitimate safety issues,” Southwest said in a statement. “However, the unprecedented increase in out-of-service aircraft over the last few weeks has created a hardship for our employees and customers that must be addressed.”

Southwest was forced to declare an “operational emergency” on February 15 due to the influx of planes being pulled from service due to mechanical issues. AMFA representatives said the airline was trying to divert attention from safety issues by accusing the union of illegal work action.

According to FlightAware.com as of 8:30 a.m. ET, Southwest canceled over 100 flights so far Monday and another 96 flights were delayed. The mechanical issues are expected to continue causing problems for the carrier.

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