Canceled flights leave Spirit Airlines passengers brawling in Fort Lauderdale

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Canceled flights led Spirit Airlines passengers to scream, shout and throw punches at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Cellphone video shows a crowd of riled-up passengers swarming the ticket check-in counter for Spirit Airlines Monday evening after nine flights were canceled, leaving hundreds stranded. In one clip, at least two women start swinging at the Broward sheriff’s deputies. Anothert video shows one of the woman being led away and someone held on the ground by deputies.

In a statement from company spokesman Paul Berry, the Miramar-based airline said it was “shocked and saddened” by the videos on social media and pointed the blame at their pilots, with whom the company has been negotiating a new contract for two years.

“This is a result of unlawful labor activity by some Spirit pilots designed to disrupt Spirit operations for our customers, by canceling multiple flights across our network. These pilots have put their quest for a new contract ahead of getting customers to their destinations and the safety of their fellow Spirit Team Members. It is for this reason, Spirit has filed suit in Federal Court to protect our customers’ future travel.”

The pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, said they’re not being paid anywhere near their peers, even as Spirit Airlines has made a profit for 27 consecutive financial quarters.

In a statement, ALPA said, “The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l and the Spirit pilot group it represents are not engaged in a job action. Rather, ALPA and the Spirit pilots are continuing to do everything possible to help restore the company’s operations, which have experienced significant problems over the past several days. While we will continue these efforts, we will actively defend the association, its officers and its member pilots against the unwarranted and counterproductive legal action brought this evening by Spirit Airlines.”

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