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Every tech issue or flight stoppage at Southwest will be under intense scrutiny because of its Christmas holidays disruptions last year, and reports that the airline had under-invested in technology.

Southwest Airlines Co’s flights resumed operation Tuesday after a one-hour nationwide stoppage, which the U.S. airline said was caused by a firewall failure.

The Dallas-based carrier said a vendor-supplied firewall went down Tuesday morning and connection to some operational data was “unexpectedly” lost, forcing it to temporarily pause all flights.

Data from flight tracker FlightAware shows 43% of Southwest’s flights are delayed, thus far. Many of the delayed flights are expected to be canceled later in the day.

The airline asked those whose flights are canceled to request a refund.

Shares of the airline fell 1.4% in mid-day trade on Tuesday.

Southwest has been under fire ever since a staffing crisis due to bad weather during the Christmas holidays overwhelmed its crew scheduling software, disrupting travel plans for two million customers.

The holiday disruption led to over 16,700 flight cancellations, costing the company more than $1 billion.

A sharp rebound in travel demand from the pandemic lows has exposed the fragility of the aviation system.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had to halt flights nationwide in January due to a systems outage.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a series of serious close calls, including a near collision in January between FedEx and Southwest planes in Austin, Texas, where the jets came within 100 feet of each other, and a runway incursion at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport involving an American Airlines plane.

The near-miss incidents prompted the FAA last month to issue a safety alert to airlines, pilots and others about the “need for continued vigilance and attention to mitigation of safety risks.” (Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh in Chicago and Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Alexandra Hudson)

This article was written by Aishwarya Nair and Rajesh Kumar Singh from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].


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Tags: faa, flight cancellations, flight delays, southwest airlines, tech

Photo credit: A Southwest Airlines plane at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in 2020, marking inauguration of service to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. Southwest had a brief nationwide stoppage on April 18, 2023 because of a firewall issue. Source: Southwest/Stephen M. Keller Stephen M. Keller / Southwest Airlines

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