It could be a cruel fall for the airline industry if the latest news out of Southwest Airlines is any indication of what's to come in the months ahead. Southwest intends to cut 36 percent of its flights when stimulus money runs out in October.
Southwest's big fall route cut works out to about 35,000 flights being axed nationwide. In addition, roughly 35 percent of Southwest's traffic out of its home base of Dallas will evaporate. However, the airline isn't ruling out the idea of adding extra flights on routes that prove to be popular after monitoring what September traffic looks like. Southwest has confirmed that it will be keeping middle seats open on all flights until at least Oct. 31.
While the airline industry has seen a recent upward trend in bookings, Southwest obviously does not reckon it is enough to justify running full flights schedules. Notably absent from October's roster are Love Field flights to Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Columbus and Santa Ana. However, many insiders are speculating that some of the removed routes could be on the schedule again in time for the holiday travel season just ahead of Thanksgiving.
There is a possibility that Southwest could boost October flights at the last minute. Lawmakers and airline executives are currently working on additional payroll relief that will help airlines maintain operations if something is passed. A new round of relief would likely help airlines to cover payroll costs until March of 2021. Ultimately, all Southwest customers can do is to stay tuned!