Airline investigates suspicous symbols marked on planes

Strange markings began appearing on Southwest Airlines airplanes in February.

Story highlights

  • Employees received an internal memo about markings on planes
  • Southwest is working with local, federal officials to find vandals
  • Sources tell local media, 'the markings appear to be Arabic words"
Southwest Airlines is working with federal and local officials to determine who is responsible for vandalizing its planes with strange markings, a statement from the airline said Tuesday.
The unauthorized markings surfaced in February, spokesperson Whitney Eichinger said in the statement. Eichinger would not comment on the number of planes vandalized, where the incidents were reported or give specific details about what the markings were.
CNN affiliate KNXV in Phoenix reported that multiple sources, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, have said "the markings appear to be Arabic words."
But those same sources said they believe the markings are the work of "an employee or group of employees joking around," KNXV reported.
Southwest had planned to handle the situation as "an internal vandalism issue," a memo from Mike Van de Ven stated, but a company employee called in a tip to ABC15, after information about the investigation was posted in a memo on the company's internal blog.
"We are asking your help to stop this and to report those responsible," the memo from Mike Van de Ven read. "If you are aware of anyone involved in marking or tagging our aircraft, please notify our Leader, " the memo states.
It also said "the issue is taken very seriously," and that the company plans "to work in cooperation with both local and federal law enforcement agencies until the issue is resolved."