Southwest Airlines flight delays hit Long Beach Airport

The weekend cancellation of thousands of flights from Southwest Airlines has affected Long Beach travelers with Long Beach Airport showing over two dozen flights either delayed or cancelled Monday morning.

Southwest Airlines, Long Beach’s largest tenant, said over the weekend that the delays were due to a mix of weather and staffing limitations brought on by the pandemic. The airline holds 35 of the 53 daily flight slots at Long Beach airport. Southwest reportedly cancelled over 2,000 flights between Friday and Sunday.

Speculation grew over the weekend that the disruptions may have been linked to the airlines announcement that it would be complying with a directive from the federal government that requires all federal contractors to have their employees fully vaccinated Dec. 8.

However, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association told the Dallas Morning News Monday that pilots were not participating in an orchestrated walk out in protest of the new vaccine requirement.

“The weekend challenges were not a result of employee demonstrations, as some have reported,” Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King told the Dallas Morning News. “We have a closer to normal operation today, navigating some new weather across our system.”

FlightAware, a site that tracks airline activity, showed that Southwest had cancelled 363 flights Monday, 10% of its scheduled flights, and had another 812 delayed. The next closest airline, AirChina, had a total of 263 flights either cancelled or delayed.

Southwest’s delays accounted for nearly 43% of all delays in the United States Monday, according to the site.

In Long Beach, several Southwest flights to destinations including Kahului, Austin and Sacramento have either departed or remain on time, but others to a variety of destinations across the county are listed as delayed or cancelled.

Kate Kuykendall, a spokesperson for Long Beach Airport, said that a total of five flights have been canceled so far. Kuykendall said that passengers should contact Southwest about rebooking options and added that the airport has no additional information to share with travelers at this time.

[Editors note: This story has been updated with a comment from an airport spokesperson.]

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.