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Southwest Air Cancellations Ease; Pilots See Return to Normal by Wednesday

The head of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association says he expected the company's flight schedule to get back to normal by tomorrow.
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Shares of Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Southwest Airlines Co. Report were recouping on Tuesday as the airline recovered from massive flight cancellations that caused major disruptions at the country's third largest passenger airline. 

The Dallas company is expected to get back to normal operations later Tuesday or Wednesday, Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told CNBC. 

"This has been going on for a couple of years and we haven't seen a proactive statement from the company addressing what is causing this domino effect to take two, three, four, five days to recover," said Murray. 

"There are issues with internal processes on how reassignments occur within the scheduling system of pilots and flight attendants." 

Over the weekend, Southwest canceled some 1,800 flights, about 25% of its flight schedule, due to what the company said was inclement weather and staffing issues. 

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On Monday, the company canceled about 10% of its schedule as the issues lingered. By Tuesday the company had lowered that number to 87 flights, or 2% of its schedule. 

“Southwest Airlines extends a tremendous apology to our customers and employees for the flight cancellations and delays which occurred over the weekend and on Monday,” the airline said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

In the backdrop of the cancellations is a brewing labor dispute between the airline and its pilots. 

On Friday, the pilots union filed a lawsuit to block the company's mandate that all its employees be vaccinated against Covid-19 or face termination. 

Speculation online said the flight disruptions resulted from a sickout organized by pilots in response to the mandate. Both the airline and the pilots association denied the claims. 

Southwest shares at last check were 0.7% at $52.05.