Southwest Airlines grounded 79 airplanes on Saturday after a piece of the fuselage on one of its Boeing 737s ripped open during a flight the day before, leaving a hole in the cabin ceiling and rapidly depressurizing the aircraft. The flight was en route to Sacramento, Calif., from Phoenix.
Southwest Airlines said in a news release on its website that it expected to cancel about 300 flights nationwide in order to inspect its fleet of Boeing 737-300 aircraft.
It was not immediately clear how many of the aircraft were currently at Tampa International Airport.
Several Southwest flights were delayed Saturday at TIA, and three to four flights on the airline were canceled, said assistant director of operations Cheri Rempert.
The delays ranged from about half an hour to three hours. As an example, Southwest flight 8715 to Dallas, scheduled to depart at 2:30 p.m., was slated to leave at 5:35 p.m.
Rempert said Southwest gave the airport no indication if the delays would last through the weekend. She advised travelers to check their flight status before arriving at TIA.
"We always say check with your airline before you come to the airport," Rempert said