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Southwest Cancels 300 Flights As It Inspects Jets

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(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

(credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — Southwest Airlines says it will have to cancel about 300 flights Saturday as it sidelines some of its older planes for inspection.

The airline is taking about 80 of its Boeing 737s out of service to check for possible “skin” problems after one of its planes lost a piece of its fuselage in the skies over Arizona.

About 40 of the outgoing flights from Southern California airports are affected. By midmorning, about a third from Ontario International were canceled or delayed, according to the airlines’ web site.

It was worse at other airports.

At San Diego International, two flights to Phoenix or San Jose were canceled. Another eight were reported delayed and 15 were listed as on time.

And at Los Angeles International Airport, six flights to Oakland, Phoenix or San Jose were listed as canceled. Another three were reported delayed and 12 were listed as on time.

Similar delays were on the departure boards at John Wayne Airport in Orange County and Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport.

Flight 812 was on its way from Phoenix to Sacramento, Calif., Friday when a hole opened up in the cabin roof. The plane lost cabin pressure and made an emergency landing at a military base in Yuma, Ariz. No serious injuries were reported.

Southwest says the plane was a 15-year-old 737-300 that had undergone all inspections required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The 737-300 is the oldest model in Southwest’s fleet. The airline has about 170 of them, and they’re gradually being retired.

Southwest says it has replaced the aluminum skin on many of its 737-300s in recent years. Those being grounded haven’t had their skin replaced.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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