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Denver International Airport CEO says Southwest issues were preventable

Airport will conduct a review with airlines in coming weeks
Winter Weather Travel Colorado
Posted at 5:25 PM, Dec 28, 2022

DENVER — In the days following a swath of airline cancellations that stranded thousands of passengers prior to and following Christmas, Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington says he believes the situation was preventable.

“I think some of the things could have been handled better, most definitely,” Washington told Denver7. “And speaking constructively, I want to find out what those are and how we can do them better.”

The airport announced Wednesday that it will hold a review with its three major airline carriers over the next two weeks in hopes of determining the root causes of these massive airline issues following a severe winter storm.

While Washington says the after-action review will include Frontier, United and Southwest airlines, he tells Denver7 he recognizes that the vast majority of cancellations have come from Southwest.

“You know, accountability definitely has to happen,” Washington said. “I don’t like to see passengers in my airport be inconvenienced. And so this becomes a real issue for us. We have been working day and night as an airport to try and resolve these issues with the airline and we’ll continue to do that.”

The airport does not have the ability to issue fines or any sort of punishment on airlines. Washington says the U.S. Department of Transportation has the power to do that, but he hopes that this review can help establish what happened and prevent it from happening again.

As customer service representatives with the airlines and the airport try to repair this damage, Washington plans to take his concerns to Southwest’s top brass.

“I will say that my message is I'm frustrated. I'm disappointed. Just like any traveler out there,” he said. “I hate to see that in my airport. And so I am disappointed, and I have voiced that and conveyed that. So I'm not happy about it. I'm just as frustrated as any traveler that is going through our airport.”