Southwest Says Flights are Filling, Fares are Rising

In this file photo a Southwest Airlines employee assists a passenger at the ticket counter.
In this file photo a Southwest Airlines employee assists a passenger at the ticket counter.
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines said Wednesday that bookings are improving and leisure-travel fares for June are approaching pre-pandemic levels, further signs that the airline industry is recovering from a deep slump.

The Dallas-based airline said the average April flight was 79 percent full, and it expects June flights to be 85 percent full. Southwest said it has sold 55 percent of the seats it expects to fill in June and 35 percent for July, which it called "fairly typical" booking patterns.

Southwest said in a regulatory filing that demand is still being driven mostly by leisure travelers. It said bookings by business travelers are ticking modestly higher but remain down about 80 percent from 2019 levels. Southwest said operating revenue in April was 42 percent below April 2019. It forecast that the revenue decline compared with two years ago will narrow to between 20 and 25 percent by June.

The airline said it cut its "core" cash-burn rate to $6 million a day in April and now expects to lose between $1 million and $3 million a day in the April-through-June quarter. That is $1 million better than a previous forecast. It expects to reach break-even in June, excluding debt service, capital spending and some other costs.

The shares were down two percent in early trading about an hour before Wednesday's regular session.


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