Southwest flight debacle a system failure, U.S. says

STORY: “And please also know that I’m truly sorry.”

Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan took to social media to apologize for the massive flight disruptions that left thousands of holiday travelers stranded this week, saying the low-cost airline needed to upgrade its systems.

"The tools we use to recover from disruption serve us well, 99 percent of the time; but clearly, we need to double down on our already existing plans to upgrade systems for these extreme circumstances so that we never again face what's happening right now."

And the nation’s top transportation official agreed – saying Southwest’s widespread cancellations were no longer weather-related, but due to a failure of the airline’s systems.

In an interview with ABC News, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also said that Southwest’s stranded passengers need to get to where they need to go, and should be provided “adequate compensation” for not only flights, but also for hotels, ground transportation and meals.

U.S. airlines had canceled thousands of flights as a massive winter storm swept over much of the country before and during the Christmas holiday weekend, but Southwest’s woes have deepened while other airlines have largely recovered.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 2,500 Southwest flights were canceled, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

That’s after the airline cancelled more than 12,000 flights stretching back to Friday.

Southwest told Reuters it would reimburse customers for travel-related costs and that it had already processed thousands of requests by Tuesday.

Shares of Southwest were down in Wednesday morning trading, and some analysts said the cancellations will pressure profits in the fourth quarter.