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Southwest Airlines cancels over 1,000 flights, says weather, air traffic control issues in Florida triggered disruptions

NEW YORK — More than 1,000 Southwest Airlines flights were canceled and hundreds more were delayed amid an increase in travel over the fall holiday weekend.

The flight-tracking website FlightAware.com shows that Southwest canceled 28% of its flights as of Sunday morning while hundreds more face delays.

More than 800 Southwest flights were canceled Saturday and upwards of 1,100 flights were delayed, according to FlightAware.

For comparison, American Airlines has the second-most cancellations Sunday with 66.

The Dallas-based airline said Saturday that the problem stems from air traffic control issues and weather.

In a more detailed statement issued Sunday, Southwest elaborated on how “weather challenges” and “unexpected air traffic control issues” in Florida on Friday created a ripple effect of nationwide delays and cancelations that spilled into the weekend.

“We experienced weather challenges in our Florida airports at the beginning of the weekend, challenges that were compounded by unexpected air traffic control issues in the same region, triggering delays and prompting significant cancellations for us beginning Friday evening … With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged,” the statement said.

The Federal Aviation Administration also told ABC News that it attributed a few flight cancellations and delays on Friday to severe weather, military training and limited staffing at the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center.

“Some airlines continue to experience scheduling challenges due to aircraft and crews being out of place,” an FAA spokesperson said in a statement.

No air traffic staffing shortages were reported over the weekend, the agency said.

MORE: Southwest employees must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8 to keep jobs, company announces

Southwest pointed affected customers to its self-service rebooking options on southwest.com.

The airline said it is working to recover operations.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it screened more than 2.1 million people at airport security checkpoints Friday, a volume that hasn’t been seen since early August.

The federal government acknowledges Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday as a federal holiday, meaning millions of workers have a three-day weekend and were more likely to book travel.

Over a three-week period in the summer, Southwest Airlines struggled with thousands of delays and hundreds of canceled flights because of computer problems, staffing shortages and bad weather. American Airlines also grappled with a surge in delays at the time.

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