Southwest Airlines CEO blames Central Florida for recent flight cancellations, delays

ORLANDO, Fla. — As fallout continues following a weekend of disruptions that forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and left passengers stranded, the blame game has begun.

In an appearance Tuesday on “Good Morning America”, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly apologized to customers, but also blamed a large part of the problem on the Florida weather, specifically a ground stop in Orlando that kept many flights from taking off on time.

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READ: Southwest flight cancellations and delays leave frustrated travelers in Orlando

“Orlando as an example, had a ground stop for seven hours, so it just put the airline way behind on Friday.” he said.

In a statement, FAA officials did confirm there was a ground stop at Orlando International Airport, but said that wasn’t the only issue.

READ: Southwest Airlines cancels over 1,000 flights nationwide

“Flight delays and cancellations occurred for a few hours Friday afternoon due to widespread severe weather, military training and limited staffing in one area of the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center. Most airlines were able to fully recover by Saturday morning.” a spokesperson said.

Capt. Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said what would have been a minor challenge for other airlines only highlights the issues facing the air carrier.

READ: Southwest cancels hundreds more flights; passengers stranded

“Until the company makes some changes in how they’re doing business internally and scheduling our pilots, we’re going to continue to see the problem,” he said.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

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