Southwest Airlines pauses departures after technical problems


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Passengers check in for Southwest Airlines flights at Chicago Midway International Airport on April 18, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines briefly paused its departures on Tuesday after reporting technical problems, delaying flights around the country.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the ground stop had been lifted, but many flights were still delayed. More than 1,849 flights, or 44% of Southwest’s schedule, were delayed as of 2 p.m. EDT, according to flight-tracking site FlightAware.

“Early this morning, a vendor-supplied firewall went down and connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lost,” Southwest said in a statement. “Southwest Teams worked quickly to minimize flight disruptions.”

Southwest’s stock was down more than 1% in afternoon trading.

Airlines or the FAA will occasionally pause departures, particularly at certain airports, to avoid bottlenecks for parking on the ground.

Southwest had a meltdown over the year-end holidays, which drove thousands of flight cancellations and resulted in an $800 million pretax hit for the fourth quarter. The airline upgraded scheduling software that couldn’t handle numerous changes to crew assignments during severe winter weather late last year.

The issues Tuesday did not appear to be related to that software.

Southwest is scheduled to report first-quarter results on April 27 before the market opens.

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