“Safety Is Our Top Priority”: FAA To Slap Southwest Airlines With $12M Fine

July 30, 2014  |  

Southwest Airlines is in boiling hot water for failing to comply with several FAA regulations for its Boeing 737 jetliners. The penalty? A possible $12 million fine, USA Today reports.

The Dallas-based airline brushed off a few repair orders mandated by the national aviation authority over the past eight years, the FAA says. In 2006, Southwest and its contractor, Aviation Technical Services, did not properly replace fuselage skins on 44 planes.

In 2009, Southwest Airlines placed the planes back into service — even though, according to the FAA, the planes were on “notice that these aircraft were not in compliance” with safety codes, ABC News reports. “The FAA said it later approved repairs to the planes after the airline provided proper documentation that the repairs met safety standards.”

Lastly, the FAA claims that Southwest failed to properly install a ground water wire on water drain masts on two of its Boeing 737 aircraft after an FAA order that was issued to prevent lightening strike disasters. Though Southwest was aware of the directive, both planes flew on 20 passenger flights before correcting the problem.

“Safety is our top priority, and that means holding airlines responsible for the repairs their contractors undertake,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

The FAA is proposing a $12 million fine for Southwest’s recent history of noncompliance — the second-highest fine the agency has ever presented to an airline after American Airlines’ $24.2 million fine in 2010.

“The FAA views maintenance very seriously, and it will not hesitate to take action against companies that fail to follow regulations,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.

The Texas air carrier is also battling a passenger’s taxing experience that’s gone viral. Duff Watson tweeted “Wow, rudest agent in Denver. Kimberly S, gate C39, not happy @SWA” after a flight attendant wouldn’t let his two daughters  board with him. As a member of Southwest’s A-list program, Watson was entitled to priority boarding — just not with his kids. He’d have to wait to board with everyone else.

Kimberly S. got wind of the tweet. Watson was forced to delete the tweet or deplane — he did the former.

“I was left, you know, very upset, very embarrassed, very humiliated,” Watson told WCCO.

“We are thoroughly investigating the situation,” the airline wrote in a statement online. “We have reached out to the Customer and offered vouchers as a gesture of goodwill.”

Southwest has got a lot of PR work to do!

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