(Originally posted on February 24, 2015 with updates on February 25, 2015) Today’s trending aviation news is courtesy of Southwest Airlines. Late Tuesday, February 24, 2015, Southwest Airlines voluntarily pulled out 128 Boeing 737-700 aircrafts (approximately 1/5 of its fleet) for missing maintenance checks.
In its news release (refer to link), Southwest Airlines (based out of Dallas) asserted that it discovered “an overdue maintenance check required to be performed on the standby hydraulic system, which serves as a back-up to the primary hydraulic systems”. The airline proactively pulled all aircrafts affected out of its scheduled last Tuesday night and developed an action to complete all overdue checks for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s approval. As of Tuesday night, 80 flights have been cancelled.
The standby hydraulic system can affect the operations of rudder, flaps and thrust reverser and yam damper (but is only used only if System A and B fails). It can be activated manually and automatically on the Boeing 737s.
The following is an infographic showing the impact of pulling aircrafts out of service for maintenance checks:
Theoretically, with approximately 19% of its fleet out of service immediately, there may be upwards to 600+ flights that could be cancelled or delayed out of the 3400+ flights operated by this lowest cost airline (as noted in the infographic below).
Southwest Airlines operates to 93 destinations currently. It is the leading airline in 8 out of top 10 airports it serves by flight. Based on review of cancellations recorded in flightaware.com . Most of the current cancellations affect the following airports: Baltimore-Washington (BWI), Dallas Love Field (DAS) and Atlanta (ATL).
Southwest Airlines’ competitors should check their capacity to see if they can pick up additional passengers from cancelled flights by adding capacity. In particular, Virgin America (VX) which just started operations in Dallas Love Field (DAS) may enjoy a bump in loads and yields.
After the news release, Southwest Airlines stock is down 5 cents in after hours trading. Experience The Skies will update the stock information at the end of February 25, 2015.
Experience The Skies will continue to monitor stock performance and flight cancellations due to this event.
In a statement, “The airline voluntarily removed these aircraft from service while the FAA works with Boeing and Southwest to evaluate a proposal that would allow the airline to continue flying the planes until the inspections are completed over the next few days,” the FAA said in a statement.
Update – February 25, 2015
As of 10am Eastern Standard Time, Southwest Airlines reported 140 cancellations and 154 delays. In total, these numbers represent about 8% of total daily departures.
The stock is down roughly 1.5% in early trading and is the biggest downer amongst major US airline stocks.
As reported earlier, Virgin America’s operations at Dallas Love Field could pick up some additional passengers from Southwest’s delays and cancellations there. Its stock is up more than 1% this morning and is the top gainer of all major US airlines.
Southwest Airlines cancelled 189 flights yesterday (4% of daily total) and delayed 358 flights (9% of daily total). Most of the issues stemmed from weather in Atlanta where Delta Air Lines also experienced significant amount of delays and cancellations.