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Southwest Airlines pilots report record levels of fatigue due to rise in air travel

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Posted at 11:45 AM, Apr 13, 2022

Pilots at Southwest Airlines say fatigue from poor scheduling is a growing problem and is raising safety concerns.

Leaders of the pilots' union at Southwest said Tuesday that problems started last summer as Dallas-based Southwest began ramping up for the recovery in air travel, and they have gotten worse since then.

The union officials say the number of pilots asking to be relieved from a flight assignment because of fatigue jumped 330% in March compared with the same month before the pandemic, and April is already “setting fatigue records.”

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association made the complaint as it negotiates with the airline for a new contract.

Southwest spokeswoman Brandy King said the airline had a “significant and steady decline” in fatigue calls after the airline made schedule changes in November.

She said the increase in calls in March was expected.

King added that the system allows pilots to determine if they are too tired to fly.

Other airlines, including JetBlue, have said they will trim flights during the summer due to summer issues.

Alaska Airlines attributes its rise in cancellations and delays to a pilot shortage.