Just four months after the airline broke down during the Christmas travel season, Southwest Airlines jets were grounded nationwide due to what the airline described as an intermittent technological issue, resulting in more than 1,700 flight delays on Tuesday.
According to Southwest and the Federal Aviation Administration, the stop on departures was removed by late morning, shortly after it was announced, but not before traffic at airports from Denver to New York City backed up.
Southwest Airlines issued a prepared statement saying, “Southwest has resumed operations after temporarily pausing flight activity this morning to work through data connection issues caused by a firewall failure.”
Early this morning, a firewall provided by a vendor failed, abruptly cutting off access to some operational data.
As it tried to resume operations, the airline asked passengers to check the status of their flights “and explore self-service options” for travel.
Southwest was responsible for well over half of all delays countrywide by late morning on the East Coast, although the airline had only canceled a few flights, according to FlightAware.
The flight halt on Tuesday was only temporary, but it reinforced the impression that this airline has battled more than most with technological problems. Robert Jordan, the CEO, has launched an initiative to restore the airline’s shattered reputation.
Southwest canceled roughly 17,000 flights in December owing to severe weather and an overloaded staff scheduling system during the Christmas holiday.
The airline spent more than $1 billion because of the cancellations. The Transportation Department is looking at the breakdown.
When the winter weather is cold enough to limit the time ground crews may spend outside, Southwest said last month that it would add deicing equipment and additional employees.