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Southwest Airlines issues new statement on cancellations, says it will fly at 'roughly one third' of schedule for 'next several days'

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association president called the situation 'a failure at every level' and elected officials said 'the public deserves answers.'

DALLAS — Following additional mass cancellations to its flight schedule, Southwest Airlines released an updated statement on Tuesday to detail its plans for addressing its ongoing issues.

The airline's new statement is an almost word-for-word match with its previous public statement from Monday, offering "heartfelt apologies" and promises to keep "safety at the forefront." 

The new release, however, includes two notable additions. First, it announces that the airline has "made the decision to continue operating a reduced schedule by flying roughly one third of our schedule for the next several days."

It also says Southwest is "working to reach Customers whose travel plans will change to offer specific information and available options" about those changes in a new section of its website found at southwest.com/traveldisruption/.

Later on Tuesday, Southwest CEO Bob Jordan also released a video statement addressing the situation.

In the almost three-minute clip, Jordan -- who took over the top role at Southwest from the airline's longtime CEO Gary Kelly following his retirement in February -- apologized to both the public and his employees, and promised that his team is "doing everything we can to return to a normal operation." 

While blaming the winter weather and his airline's "complex" network, Jordan said his company has "some real work to do in making this right" and vowed that his team would "double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what's happening right now."

Other noteworthy statements relating to the cancellation -- albeit from outside of the company itself -- were also issued on Tuesday.

Speaking to ABC News, Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Casey Murray slammed the cancellation fiasco.

"It's been catastrophic," Murray said. "It's been a failure at every level at Southwest. Our pilots, our front line employees have worked under enormous stress to try to get our passengers from A to B, but we were dealt a really bad hand as far as Southwest is concerned. I mean, our processes, our I.T., our infrastructure just wasn't there to support the operation. And, unfortunately, our customers are bearing the brunt of it."

Added Murray: "We have pilots, we have flight attendants, who don't have hotels, who they truly just don't know where they are. We have our ramp agents trying to load bags, but there wasn't a preparation done to make sure that the loaders, the fueling trucks were prepared, the de-ice equipment was prepared. It is simply a failure of Southwest management."

On Tuesday at Dallas Love Field, at least one Southwest Airlines pilot could be seen helping to load luggage onto one of the flew flights set to take off for the day.

Meanwhile, U.S. Congressman Colin Allred (D-Texas), whose North Texas district (Texas' 32nd) covers parts of North Texas (but not Southwest's hub of Dallas Love Field), released a statement of his own in his capacity as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

"North Texas is the proud home to Southwest Airlines and many of its hardworking employees, but the catastrophic collapse of their flight schedule has impacted thousands of customers, leaving many families stranded over the holidays," Allred's statement read. "This is unacceptable and given the federal support they received, the public deserves answers. As a member of the Aviation Subcommittee on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, my staff and I are monitoring the situation closely, speaking with stakeholders and will provide more information when appropriate.”

In 2020, Southwest Airlines accepted more than $3 billion in government grants and loans to help cover payroll and ensure that it wouldn't face staffing issues throughout the pandemic and as the airline worked to recover from the losses suffered during COVID-related shutdowns.

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Transportation tweeted that it was "concerned by Southwest’s unacceptable rate of cancellations and delays" and the "reports of lack of prompt customer service," promising to "examine whether cancellations were controllable and if Southwest is complying with its customer service plan."

In a statement to ABC News, United States Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg also criticized Southwest's handling of the situation.

"In my judgment, this has crossed the line into something that is not just a weather delay, but something that the airline is responsible for, which means that they need to meet customer service commitments that they made to us earlier this year when we were pushing for the airlines to enhance their level of customer service in the wake of all of the disruptions that we saw in the early summer holidays," Buttigieg said. "Bottom line is, this is just not an acceptable level of service. They need to fix it."

The Department of Transportation now recommends passengers file formal complaints with the department if needed. That's something Kati Hanni's done before.

She and her family were among those stranded on tarmacs for hours in late 2006 without food, water or usable toilets. She later founded an organization, Flyers Rights, which went on to successfully advocate for legislative change. 

She told WFAA that all Southwest passengers should do what she did: file complaints with the DOT, write to representatives in Congress and call the news. 

"People need to understand they do have rights, but they need to be in action!" she told WFAA.

"We personally, are accountable," she added.

"If we do something wrong as human beings, we’re accountable in life. How is it that the major airlines can get away with this kind of things, damaging human beings? It's unconscionable."

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