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CLAIM ID

2a562900

Denver International Airport canceled many Southwest Airlines flights owing to pilots' protests over COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Due to bad weather and air traffic control concerns, Southwest Airlines had canceled flights for the weekend beginning October 9 at Denver Airport.

A false claim spread on the internet that Southwest Airlines(SWA) canceled many flights from Denver International Airport(DIA) because flight crew members protested against COVID-19 vaccine mandates. False allegations of a strike spurred interest on social media and found their way into mainstream media on October 10, 2021, as SWA revealed an operational snag.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association(SWAPA) clarified that the required vaccine mandate had caused no work slowdowns or disruptions. The Railway Labor Act or RLA forbids the union from conducting job action to resolve labor disputes in this situation. SWAPA has approved no job action.

Customers of SWA at DIA in the United States encountered many flight cancellations on October 10, reports 9News. At 3:30 p.m. on October 10, SWA had withdrawn 145 flights and had 91 flights delayed at DIA. On October 9, 102 SWA flights were canceled, and 160 flights were rescheduled at DIA. Several travelers who planned to fly out of Denver waited for hours in an online booking line that extended around the check-in area. The 9News report also said some customers queued for more than four hours only to be informed that the most immediate departure was on October 13 from Denver.

On October 10, the Washington Post reported that SWA canceled at least 1,800 flights over the weekend, alleging disrupted weather and air traffic control concerns. Meanwhile, federal authorities blamed weekend service interruptions on ''airline staffing and aircraft issues.''

But on October 10, even FAA clarified via Twitter, "No FAA air traffic staffing shortages have been reported since Friday.'' Further said, ''Flight delays & cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday PM due to widespread severe weather, military training, & limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville en-route center."

On October 4, SWA had announced that it would comply with the U.S. government's COVID-19 vaccine deadline. It stated that all its employees must be vaccinated entirely against COVID-19 before December 8 or be granted "religious, medical, or disability accommodation" in order "to continue employment with the airline."

The SWAPA, a union representing pilots, filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order against the vaccine policy, claiming that SWA's unilateral obligation enforcement violates RLA, reports TIME.

Therefore, the flight cancellations were caused by inclement weather, not by workers opposing the company's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Even the FAA wrote on Twitter that there was no indication that SWA's flight cancellations were due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

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