Southwest pilots vote to authorize strike

A Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft taxis at Midway International Airport in ChicagoA Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft taxis after landing at Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2019. REUTERS/Kamil Kraczynski/File Photo

May 11 (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) pilots' union said on Thursday its members had approved a strike mandate by an overwhelming majority ahead of the busy summer travel season.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), which represents 10,000 pilots of the Dallas-based carrier, said 98% of its members participated in the vote and 99% voted in favor of authorizing a strike.

Southwest said the vote result will not impact its operations: "We are staffed and prepared to welcome travelers for their summer travel plans."

Southwest has been under regulatory scrutiny since a staffing crisis due to bad weather during the Christmas holidays overwhelmed its crew scheduling software, disrupting travel plans for 2 million customers.

"Pilots (have) already made their voices heard about the operational disasters and the lack of progress after three-plus years of stagnant negotiations," SWAPA said.

Earlier this month, pilots of American Airlines Group (AAL.O) also approved a strike mandate.

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