KVUE-TV: Mike Slack Comments About Cracks in Southwest Airplanes

Southwest cracks behind delays at ABIA
by Andrew Horansky, KVUE News, April 4, 2011

Southwest Airlines canceled two flights out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport Monday. A spokesperson said they were both weather-related. This weekend, however, was a different story.

The airline’s inspection of cracks caused the cancellation of 14 flights. They included eight flights on Saturday and six flights on Sunday. It followed the opening of a gash on top of the fuselage of a Southwest 737 over the weekend.

By Monday, travelers at ABIA said that did not shake their confidence in the airline.

“I actually have no fear about it at all,” said Mark Escobedo, who was headed to Sacramento.

“I think they earned our loyalty,” said Nicole Starling, who was headed to Baltimore. “We will stick with them.”

There is certainly incentive for that in Austin. Southwest brings big business, with about 100 Southwest planes flying in and out of ABIA every day.

A local aviation expert, however, said the way Southwest maintains its planes could change.

Mike Slack said Southwest planes are in the air more often and in service longer than their competitors. He believes they are subject to more wear and tear.

“Southwest was probably doing what they were asked to do in terms of adhering to maintenance standards from Boeing and perhaps even federal regulations,” Slack said. “What we may learn is that they may not be enough.”

The 737 is considered the workhorse of the commercial aviation industry. Southwest had 548 in its fleet.


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