Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

Senator Ted Cruz has blamed what he called an ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ for mass flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines, which left thousands of passengers stranded over the weekend. 

Cruz took to Twitter on Sunday to share an article on the nearly 2,000 cancellations by the airline, writing: ‘Joe Biden’s illegal mask mandate at work!

‘Suddenly, we’re short on pilots & air traffic controllers.’

Cruz’s comments came amid speculation regarding the cause of the mass cancellations, with a pilot’s union blaming a ‘poorly run operation’ while the airline pointed to bad weather and staff being off after getting vaccinated. 

The cancellations came two days after the firm’s pilots’ union asked a court to block a COVID vaccine mandate, sparking rumors that a pilot walk-out had been to blame for the cancellations.

The Dallas-based carried cancelled more than 1,000 flights on Sunday and 808 on Saturday – equivalent to 27 per cent of its entire schedule for the day – over the holiday weekend.     

By comparison, on Sunday, American Airlines cancelled two per cent of its flights while Spirit Airlines axed two per cent of theirs, according to FlightAware. 

The president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association told News4Jax that the delays were due to staffing and a ‘poorly run operation.’ 

Meanwhile, Southwest blamed a combination of inclement weather and staffing shortages at Jacksonville Air Traffic Control Center in Florida for the disruption. 

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

Southwest nixed more than 1,800 flights during the weekend, leaving passengers stranded

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

A passenger and his child were left sleeping on the floor after being stranded in Las Vegas

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

A passenger at Orlando International Airport shared a picture of four children sleeping on the floor due to flight cancellations

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

Long lines due to Southwest Airlines flight cancellations over the weekend

On Sunday, Jacksonville Aviation Authority COO Tony Cugno refuted the rumor in a letter to the Board of Directors, and said that the delays were in fact due to staffing issues at the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX).

He claimed that many controllers had been getting their first or second COVID-19 vaccinations, which required them to take two days off to recover – leaving JAX air control short staffed. 

In a letter, obtained by ActionNewsJax, he said: ‘A rumor is circulating in traditional and social, media outlets stating JAX Center was closed due to an organized walkout late Friday by controllers in response to the FAA’s mandate that all employees get vaccinated for COVID.

‘A contact at FFAA confirmed they did have some staffing issues at JAX center last Friday, however, those staffing issued were due to the following: Normal approved leave (and) controllers who received either their first or second dose of the vaccine and by policy are required to stay home for 48 hours to self monitor for side effects … thus creating some staffing issues.’  

Passengers took to Twitter to speculate over the vaccine lawsuit after rivals axed far fewer flights; American Airlines cancelled 63 flights Sunday, while United cancelled nine trips. 

‘This has nothing to do with weather,’ said one Twitter user. ‘Thanks for ruining our week with our grandkids.

‘At least admit it was due to selfish pilots.’

‘Disappointed in southwest,’ another wrote. ‘Don’t lie about weather and cancellations. Have been a big fan… hard to be today with late flight cancelled’.

Others were less concerned about the cause of the cancellations, than frustrated about an apparent lack of communication from the airline. 

‘I understand that the delays and cancellations are out of your control but we did not receive any notification that my flight had been cancelled from philly. I only found out after I checked to make sure my flight was on time,’ a ‘long time customer’ wrote on Twitter. 

‘4 little kids sleeping on the floor of #mco because @SouthwestAirlines lied to us all day & night and then didn’t even have the decency to throw us a blanket. #SouthwestAirlines Will be a miracle if we leave here without #COVID19’. 

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

On Monday, Southwest Airlines became the latest U.S. airline to require its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in line with Biden’s COVID plan.

The company said its 54,000 employees must be fully vaccinated by December 8 or they will lose their jobs. Medical and religious exceptions may be sought.

Last week, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue also announced their own vaccine mandates.

United Airlines announced their mandate in August for its 67,000 staff. Since then, more than 97 per cent of  workers have been vaccinated. 

Last month, nearly 600 United employees faced termination for refusing to get vaccinated but last week, the airline said that figure had dropped to 320. 

The 2,000 United employees who sought religious or medical exceptions will be placed on temporary unpaid leave.

Delta Air Lines has not yet mandated vaccines for its staff of about 80,000 people.

In response to Southwest’s mandate, Southwest Airline Pilots Association (SWAPA) filed a lawsuit to try and block the airline from participating in a federally-mandated vaccine directive that requires employees to be fully inoculated by December 8. 

That suit adds that Southwest’s proposed policy is a violation of the Railway Labor Act. 

The association, which represents nearly 10,000 pilots, in a court filing demanded the airline ‘cease and desist’ the mandate rollout without first reaching an agreement with the union. 

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

One passenger said she was on hold for more than eight hours after her flight was cancelled

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

Southwest cancelled more than 1,800 flights during the weekend

Southwest in a statement continued to blame the cancellations to weather challenges in Florida, coupled with ‘unexpected air control issues’ in the same area. 

‘We’ve continued diligent work throughout the weekend to reset our operation with a focus on getting aircraft and crews repositioned to take care of our customers,’ it said. ‘With fewer frequencies between cities in our current schedule, recovering during operational challenges is more difficult and prolonged.’ 

But some passengers aren’t buying the reasoning.

‘Why lie about the issues of canceled flights?’ Michelle Harbort tweeted.

‘It’s not due to weather and ATC issues!!! People are not getting vaccinated so your employees are walking off the job!! Thankfully my husband and I got another flight to our destination.

‘Please don’t lie, that’s what made me mad today.’

Nora Kennedy, who said she was stranded at Orlando International for days, posted a photo of the airport’s departure board, which indicated a disproportionate amount of Southwest flights being affected. 

‘Strange how the ATC issues and weather are still only affecting your airline at MCO,’ she tweeted. ‘Must be some crazy storms if they’re only targeting your planes.’

Andrew Sproge said he and his son resorted to sleeping on the floor of a Las Vegas airport after being stranded there during a stopover en route to Maui. 

He wrote: ‘Flight to Maui was cancelled after arriving in Vegas. They told us they would send us to Honolulu and take care of us when we arrived. 

‘Apparently the ‘taking care’ of us meant the baby is welcome to lay on the carpet as we wait til tomorrow for another flight. No hotel, no food.’

Ryan Bevans said he and his family said the mass cancellations left him and his family stranded for hours.

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

, Ted Cruz blames ‘illegal vaccine mandate’ after Southwest cancelled 2,000 flights over the weekend, The Evepost National News

Twitter user Nora Kennedy noted the disproportionate amount of cancelled Southwest flights

‘They were unable to get our bags,’ he tweeted. ‘Bags will continue to destination regardless of what we do. Three kids, pregnant wife, no bags… and the offer is a $100 credit to a future flight with @SouthwestAir.

‘About as (tone) deaf as it gets.’

He said Saturday that customer service employees were not offering reimbursements, or hotel credits, and that the next flight out from Denver was three days away.

Another passenger said she waited on hold with the Dallas-based airline’s customer service for more than eight hours.

It isn’t the first time Southwest airlines has left its passengers in a bind.

More than 1,400 Southwest Airlines flights were delayed or cancelled in June after a technical glitch in a weather information system.

Flight operations began to resume across the US late on Monday after delays hit for hours.