A New York-based law firm has filed suit against Southwest Airlines on behalf of Southwest shareholders.
The Klein Law Firm has until March 13 to find a lead plaintiff in the suit, which was filed in the U.S. District of Southern Texas.
The suit takes aim at Southwest for its operational collapse over the holiday period. Between Dec. 22 and Dec. 29, Southwest canceled 15,700 flights, accounting for 50.6% of its entire schedule over those eight days.
Other airlines also struggled operationally on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23 due to Winter Storm Elliott, but most had largely restored their network by Christmas Eve.
In a solicitation seeking individuals to join the class action, the Klein Law Firm stated, "Southwest continuously downplayed or ignored the serious issues with the technology it used to schedule flights and crews and how the company stood to be affected worse than other airlines in the event of inclement weather."
The suit also alleges that the company did not discuss how its point-to-point operational model could leave it especially vulnerable to inclement weather.
As a result, the suit alleges, Southwest management's statements about the company were "materially false or misleading."
A Southwest spokesman said the airline does not comment on pending litigation.
"There are several high-priority efforts underway to do right by our customers, including processing refunds from canceled flights, and reimbursing customers for expenses incurred as a result of the irregular operations," the spokesman said. "We have a long and proud 51-year history of delivering on our customers' expectations, and we are committed to the all-important imperative of taking care of them during operational disruptions."
The carrier has acknowledged that the operational collapse was due, in part, to inadequate technology. Unions blamed the meltdown on Southwest's crew rescheduling system, which still requires manual input from pilots.
The airline has begun an upgrade of that system, according to CEO Bob Jordan.