CHICAGO (AP) — Southwest Airlines said Friday that it had significantly scaled back its flights in and out of Midway International Airport, its Chicago hub, days after federal authorities closed the airport’s control tower after technicians tested positive for the coronavirus.
Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Brandy King said the Dallas-based airline canceled about 170 of its roughly 250 daily flights in and out of Midway due to the airspace restrictions that followed the control tower’s closure.
“We’ve had to pull that back by canceling around 170 flights. We’re averaging four to six flights per hour,” she said. “There are only so many flights they’re letting in and out of Chicago.”
King said it’s not clear how long the airline will keep its reduced flight level in and out of Midway, and that decision is tied to how long the airspace restrictions continue.
She said that reports that Southwest Airlines had cancelled all flights in and out of Midway were not accurate.
The Dallas-based airline’s move resulted in more than 173 canceled flights on Friday.
The Federal Aviation Administration closed Midway’s control tower on Tuesday after the federal agency said “several” technicians tested positive for coronavirus. The FAA said in a statement that the airport remained open and operations would continue at a reduced rate until controllers and technicians have a safe working environment.
As of Thursday, Illinois public health officials have said that 422 people statewide had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and that four people have died.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Southwest Airlines has not cancelled all of its flights in and out of Chicago, but has significantly reduced the airlines flights to and from the airport.