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Still recovering from outage, Southwest cancels more flights

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 taxis to a gate in this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 file photo. Southwest canceled more than 250 flights on Friday morning, mostly because of displaced crews and aircraft following a network outage earlier in the week, according to a company spokesperson.
A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 taxis to a gate in this Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016 file photo. Southwest canceled more than 250 flights on Friday morning, mostly because of displaced crews and aircraft following a network outage earlier in the week, according to a company spokesperson.
Ted S. Warren/AP

Southwest Airlines is still trying to catch up to its regular schedule following a severe networking outage earlier in the week.

The company canceled more than 250 flights on Friday morning, mostly because of displaced crews and aircraft, according to an update posted online by Linda Rutherford, Southwest’s chief communications officer.

Rutherford warned that hold times are still much longer than usual as staff at airports, online and on the phone attempt to help customers with re-booking.

Rutherford also noted that summer is peak travel time and that many flights through the weekend were already full or close to booked. She advised travelers to explore alternate dates for their travel plans.

Anyone with booked travel dates between July 20 and July 24 will have two weeks from their original departure date to re-book travel at no additional cost.

“We extend a heartfelt apology to our Employees and our Customers who are inconvenienced by the disruption in service. We appreciate their patience as we continue our work to make this right,” Rutherford wrote.

Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven attributed Wednesday’s outage to a router that failed, slowing the airline’s technology systems so much that other functions weren’t usable, according to the Associated Press.

Van de Ven told AP that it took crews 12 hours to restore most of its systems Wednesday. But the impact of the outage is still being felt.

Here’s more on what happened from AP:

For hours after the outage started, airline employees had to check in passengers manually and couldn’t take new reservations. The company’s website crashed — [CEO Gary] Kelly estimated that Southwest might have lost between $5 million and $10 million in ticket sales because customers couldn’t book flights.

“We have significant redundancies built into our mission-critical systems, and those redundancies did not work,” Kelly told reporters on a conference call. “We need to understand why, and make sure that that doesn’t happen again.”

Southwest has an aging technology infrastructure, but Kelly said the airline has been making “significant investments” to upgrade it. It expects to replace the longstanding reservations system next year — at a cumulative cost of $500 million — and replace other key systems over the next three to five years.