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COVID-19: Southwest Airlines: nuanced crisis management

Premium Analysis

Southwest Airlines is adopting a slightly different approach to managing its capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s capacity cuts during the next few weeks are not as deep as those of its competitors, a decision driven by its conclusion that it is easier to take capacity out of the system than add supply back into its schedule. 

The airline is working to preserve as many itineraries as it possibly can throughout the crisis and at this point, the majority of those itineraries remain intact. But Southwest is stressing that it will take more capacity out of its operations if demand continues to be weak. 

Southwest is also joining other airlines in working to ensure that passengers feel comfortable travelling over the next weeks and months, including the company capping bookings on an aircraft so passengers can practise social distancing.

But at some point, airlines need to strike a balance between social distancing and maintaining the affordability to travel by air. 

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