Tuesday morning had the CEO of Southwest, Gary Kelly, making the rounds to do damage control, after more than a thousand flights were canceled over the weekend. During his spot on Squawk on the Street, Kelly stood firm that the cancelations were attributed to weather and air traffic control and not a ‘sickout’ over the vaccine mandate.
Jim Cramer asked Kelly about the vaccine mandate, Kelly was quick to say that he is against the mandate. However, because of Biden’s mandate on federal contractors, his hands are tied. Most of his time on CNBC was spent doubling down on the official story of why there were so many cancellations.
Kelly highlighted that 50 percent of their airplanes “touch” Florida. This being a key reason the impact was so great on Southwest when it appeared that the other airlines were unphased.
Kelly was also on Good Morning America as well, where his story was the same. The cancellations on Friday caused a ripple effect for Southwest, but they are getting it all smoothed out now. George Stephanopoulos asked Kelly about the vaccine mandate being a possible contributor, and Kelly quickly retorted that “There’s just no evidence of that”. Kelly also placed the blame for the mandate on Biden.
“I want to apologize to all of our customers. This is not what we want but unfortunately it just takes a couple of days to get things back on track.”— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 12, 2021
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly speaks out on cancellation chaos. https://t.co/bwAoBRTkWX pic.twitter.com/UCuh4vr3HR
Earlier we reported on the ‘sickout’ speculation, “Saturday, Southwest Airlines blamed bad weather and air traffic control (ATC) as the reasons they have had to cancel almost 2000 flights this weekend. As of yet, it seems no reports of other airlines having to cancel have been circulating. However, speculation has been growing that many pilots are on a “sickout” in protest of Southwest’s vaccine mandate…
TMZ reported on the speculation that Southwest isn’t sharing the full story with the public:
“Here’s the deal … upwards of 1,800 SA flights (and counting) were straight-up canceled between Saturday and Sunday all over the country — leaving even more would-be passengers stranded or without air travel for the holiday weekend...
On Friday, Southwest’s pilot union filed legal docs seeking to halt a vaccine mandate that went into effect last week — following Biden‘s order for federal workers and/or contractors, which applies to the airline. That was left unresolved heading into the weekend, it seems.
While Southwesthasn’t spoken on a possible strike … the union itself shot down the notion they were to blame, saying … “[W]e can say with confidence that our Pilots are not participating in any official or unofficial job actions.” Then … some major shade...
With no other airlines highlighting cancellations it seems to be weather and ATC appears to have singularly affected Southwest Airlines. As speculation grows, will Southwest share more information or hold to their original story?”
Pictures have been circulating on Twitter that seems to suggest that pilots aren’t happy about the mandate. While the official story doesn’t seem to be changing, the unofficial story is still gaining traction.
“This photo was just sent to me of a grounded Southwest plane flying a Gadsden flag out of the cockpit. The Hero Pilots at Southwest and other Airlines deserve our support. True patriots worthy of the American Freedom Fighter tradition. Don’t Tread On Me. God Bless Them”
This photo was just sent to me of a grounded Southwest plane flying a Gadsden flag out of the cockpit. The Hero Pilots at Southwest and other Airlines deserve our support. True patriots worthy of the American Freedom Fighter tradition.— Benny (@bennyjohnson) October 11, 2021
Don’t Tread On Me.
God Bless Them 🇺🇸✈️🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/tAo9pT4Q60
“I stand with Southwest Airlines.”
I stand with Southwest Airlines. pic.twitter.com/pr6oYnNcCQ— Stacy Rae 🇺🇸 (@stacyhrae) October 11, 2021
Pilots and healthcare workers, as well as many others, have been standing up against the vaccine mandates. In some instances, hospitals have had to walk back their mandates or place them on hold for now. While other hospital systems are firing those who do not comply with deadlines. This is a very tense time as many are unsure of where they will land if they choose not to be forced to vaccinate.
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