Southwest Spending Millions Each Week on Maintenance Issues

The costs of an ongoing feud with its mechanics’ union are rising for Southwest Airlines.

Between canceled flights and out-of-service jets, the airline is spending millions of dollars each week, its CEO, Gary Kelly, said Tuesday, according to CNBC.

The airline is now embroiled in a lawsuit with the union, which it claims has been encouraging members to write-up minor maintenance issues in order to keep jets grounded and gain leverage in ongoing talks. The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents more than 2,400 Southwest mechanics, denies the allegations.

The contract negotiations at the center of the battle date back more than six years. Most recently, in September, the union rejected a new contract offer based on what it said was an inadequate pay increase offer.

Last month, Southwest was forced to declare an “operational emergency” at several maintenance locations and demanded mechanics show up for work or be terminated.

According to CNBC, more Southwest flights have been canceled since mid-February than among competitors.

Typically, the airline has about 20 planes out of service due to unexpected maintenance issues, but that number has doubled amid the union stand-off.

Some 89 Southwest flights were canceled Tuesday, which represents about two percent of the airline’s schedule, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

By comparison, JetBlue had 12 canceled flights during the same time, while United had eight.

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