Southwest Airlines is back in the air after short-lived technology issues halted departures. Officials reported Tuesday morning the ground stop was lifted.
The carrier said in a statement that it had resumed operations after temporarily pausing flight activity “to work through data connection issues resulting from a firewall failure.”
“Early this morning, a vendor-supplied firewall went down, and connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lost,” the company said. “Southwest Teams worked quickly to minimize flight disruptions.”
The ground stop was issued at 10:32 a.m. EDT and lifted at 10:48 EDT, the FAA reported.
However, during an interview, Michael Santoro, a Southwest captain and vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said the issues actually affected the airline for close to 90 minutes.
As of 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, less than 42% of the carrier’s flights were departing on time, NBC News reported.
“It’s just another tech problem here at Southwest,” Santoro added and cited the outage that caused widespread chaos last winter that caused thousands of canceled flights and millions of passengers affected.
Still, Santoro said Southwest is set apart from its competitors regarding outdated technology, such as its SWIFT routing software which has been around for 23 years.
“It’s old. … I don’t think anyone has anything like it,” said Santoro, who is helping negotiate a new contract for Southwest pilots. “To Southwest’s benefit, they’re working on a replacement, but it takes time to build and it’s not built yet.”
Santoro voiced concerns that Tuesday’s tech issues could suggest another summer travel season disrupted, adding that Southwest pilots are likely to vote in favor of a strike authorization next month.
“I think this summer is going to be challenging,” Santoro said. “Southwest pilots are ready to strike assuming [the authorization] vote passes. … We’re flying a record number of flights this summer, so you can expect to see some normal summer delays, but we also aren’t doing great with weather and our systems. I would be cautious there too.”