Southwest Airlines posted a second-quarter 2020 net loss of $915 million on Thursday, attributing the massive figure to significantly suppressed travel demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The loss is in stark contrast to the $741 million in net income the low-cost carrier reported during the same period last year. However, the airline’s leadership warns that bookings are likely to remain low until a COVID-19 vaccine or effective therapeutics become available.
“As our nation continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for air travel remains weak, which was the driver of our second-quarter net loss of approximately $1.5 billion, excluding special items,” said Southwest CEO Gary Kelly in a statement. “We were encouraged by improvements in May and June leisure passenger traffic trends, compared with March and April; however, the improving trends in revenue and bookings have recently stalled in July with the rise in COVID-19 cases. We expect air travel demand to remain depressed until a vaccine or therapeutics are available to combat the infection and spread of COVID-19. We will adjust our flight schedule aggressively and frequently in response to this volatile demand environment.”
Southwest reported second-quarter 2020 operating revenues of $1 billion, which marked a nearly 83 percent decrease year-over-year. Meanwhile, the carrier ended the most recent quarter with liquidity of $15.5 billion.
Looking ahead to third-quarter 2020, Southwest expects capacity to decrease between 20 and 30 percent over the same period last year.
“While the impact of this pandemic is unprecedented, we believe that demand for air travel will rebound, and we fully intend to be ready and well-positioned when it does,” Kelly concluded.
Southwest’s announcement comes one day after United Airlines reported a $1.6 billion second-quarter loss, calling it “the most difficult financial quarter in its 94-year history.” Delta Air Lines also reported dismal second-quarter numbers earlier this month.
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