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Southwest says it plans to return to normal operations Friday

Days after a winter storm began a series of cancellations and delays that sent Southwest Airlines into a tailspin, the airline said it plans to resume normal operations on Friday.

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In a statement posted to its website, Southwest said that while it “continues to operate roughly one-third of its schedule for Thursday, Dec. 29, we plan to return to normal operations with minimal disruptions on Friday, Dec. 30.”

Southwest canceled more than 2,300 flights on Thursday, according to FlightAware. There are currently 39 Southwest flights canceled for Friday.

Southwest airlines said it expects to return to its normal operations Friday, despite being forced to cancel approximately two-thirds of its schedule in recent days, The Associated Press reported.

In its statement, Southwest said, “We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made to realign crew, their schedules and our fleet. ... We know even our deepest apologies — to our customers, to our employees, and to all affected through this disruption — only go so far.”

While a winter storm impacted approximately 60% of the United States over the holiday weekend, other airlines rebounded fairly quickly.

Southwest CEO Robert Jordan apologized for the situation, saying in a video posted to the airline’s website, “Our network is highly complex and the operation of the airline counts on all the pieces, especially aircraft and crews remaining in motion to where they’re planned to go,” Jordan said. “With our large fleet of airplanes and flight crews out of position in dozens of locations. And after days of trying to operate as much of our full schedule across the busy holiday weekend, we reached a decision point to significantly reduce our flying to catch up.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg referred to the situation as a “melt down” and pledged to hold the airline accountable in an interview with CNN. The chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transporation said in a statement Tuesday that the causes of the disruptions and their impact would be investigated.

Captain Casey Murray, the president of the Southwest Airline Pilots Association told CNN that the company’s outdated scheduling technology is partly to blame. “We’ve talked an awful lot about modernizing the operation, and the need to do that,” Jordan said in an internal memo obtained by CNN.

More than 1 million passengers may have been impacted by Southwest’s cancellations since they began on Dec. 22, the AP reported.

Southwest is directing passengers who have had a flight canceled to go to their website to submit refund and reimbursement requests for meals, hotel and alternate transportation. The website will also help connect passengers to lost baggage.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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