All Southwest Airlines US flights grounded following firewall failure

Southwest Airlines
Felipe Sanchez /

Southwest Airlines was forced to ground its entire fleet in the United States (US) due to a firewall failure.  

The announcement came at around 9.45am on April 18, 2023, and lasted for over an hour. 

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) confirmed that Southwest Airlines requested that its departures were “paused”. 

It Is understood that the incident caused almost 2,000 flights to be delayed.  

The FAA later advised that Southwest flights would resume at the airline’s request and the technical issue resulted from the carrier’s “internal systems”. 

Southwest later revealed more details about the delay and blamed “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. Southwest Teams worked quickly to minimize flight disruptions,” the airline said. 

Customers were advised to use the website or visit Southwest Airlines customer service desk at the airport for assistance with their travel.  

The airline added: “We appreciate the patience of our customers and employees during this morning’s brief disruption.” 

According to the Mail Online the carrier’s chief commercial officer, Ryan Green, said Southwest “would do everything we can and work day and night to repair our relationship with you”. 

It is not the first time that Southwest has faced technology issues and mass delays.  

What was initially a bad weather event on December 21, 2022, ‘turned into a crew scheduling event’ on December 24, 2022, according to Southwest Airlines chief operating officer (COO) Andrew Watterson.  

The airline canceled 16,700 flights, forcing it to write off $800 million in Q4 2022, which the airline ended with a net loss of $220 million. 

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