Southwest CEO Says The Worst Is Over And It’s Safe To Fly
U.S. airlines have seen a substantial drop in passenger traffic since mid-March. One of the major questions facing airlines is when things will return to normal. Of course, part of that equation is determined by passengers feeling comfortable and believing it’s safe to fly. Well, one airline CEO think it in fact safe to return to the skies. This is despite the fact many local and state governments still order people to travel for essential reasons only.
Safe To Fly Again?
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told “Face the Nation” on Sunday that it’s safe to fly again. When asked by host Margaret Brennan whether it is safe to fly again, the CEO responded, “It is.” Kelly said the airline is “doing everything we can to make it as safe as humanely possible.”
Kelly added, “I don’t think the risk on an airplane is any greater risk than anywhere else.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk is low to get infected with coronavirus while flying. In addition, it’s possible airplanes are safer than restaurants for preventing airborne infections.
That being said, many local and state government orders still require people travel for essential purposes only. That may include traveling for necessary work duties or visiting sick family members. If you are looking to travel, it’s important you check your local laws to ensure compliance. Even if Kelly is correct that it is safe to fly again, it may still not be technically legal.
The Worst Is Over
The CEO also expressed optimism saying, “I think we’ve seen the bottom here in April. Each week after the first week of April has gotten successively better. I think May will be better than April was. I don’t think June will be a good month, but hopefully it will be a bit better than May.”
Last week, Kelly told Southwest employees that their passenger capacity was “virtually zero.” In the same remarks, he said that the airline will be a much smaller airline. But he also assured his employees that Southwest has a good product and a good balance sheet that will help them through the crisis.
Southwest reported last week that it lost $94 million in quarter one. The airline also announced it expected revenue to fall 90-95% in April and May. The results for those months will likely come in July when airports report their quarter two earnings/losses.
Clearly, Kelly is trying to express optimism for his product here. It’s been a rough month and a half, and in order to survive airlines have to get people flying again.
Traveler numbers did increase last week, and it does seem as though the worst in relation to the travel industry is past. But there are still many areas that are under stay-at-home orders, and it’s unclear when those will be lifted. Pay attention to local guidance and if you’re legally able to travel, make the decision for yourself on whether you feel safe to fly.