U.S. passenger airline traffic fell 60.1% in 2020 to the lowest number since 1984 as the COVID-19 pandemic devastated demand for air travel, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Tuesday.
A winter storm that caused dangerous travel conditions and power outages for thousands forced airlines across the country to cancel flights and issue waivers.
Delta announced on Monday that it was extending its middle-seat block for one more month, to the end of April. Delta, the last U.S. airline to block all middle seats in coach, will consider further extensions based on Covid-19 transmission and vaccination rates.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still lingering, major U.S. airlines are rerouting traditional flights from major business hubs to more leisurely destinations.
However, the chief executive said the airline remains "very well prepared" to weather this storm and was encouraged by the various executive orders put in place in the Aloha State as well as its pre-travel testing program.
Last month, the company said it had issued notices to 6,828 employees warning them that they could be furloughed
Southwest customers may still travel with their cat or dog as part as of the airline's existing pets program for a charge of $95 each way per pet carrier. However, the animals must meet all applicable requirements regarding in-cabin stowage.
Nearly 100 passengers were evacuated from a Southwest Airlines in Baltimore.
The sales come on the heels of a travel surge during the holiday season.
The airline- which had never laid off a worker in its 49-year history-- had cautioned just weeks ago that nearly 7,000 workers were in danger of losing their job come within a few months if their unions did not accept pay cuts of about 10%.
Airline pilots and other employees are watching congressional leaders' coronavirus relief talks with hope.
Southwest Airlines Co said on Wednesday it expects to take delivery of 35 737 MAX aircraft from Boeing Co through the end of 2021.
In response to what's known as "Giving Tuesday," some of the country's largest carriers have begun encouraging their customers to donate air miles to help offset travel costs for organizations.
Southwest Airlines, which has never laid off a worker in its 49-year history, notified 6,828 employees that they may be involuntarily furloughed next year as the airline industry continues to suffer amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says software issues in Boeing’s 737 MAX plane that crashed twice and was grounded for the longest period in aviation history have "easily been addressed."
Southwest has conducted research on the Boeing Co jet throughout its 20-month grounding, which was sparked by two fatal crashes, to understand customers' awareness of the topic and confidence in the aircraft, a spokesman said.
Southwest Airlines Co. says a pickup in bookings over the past three months is slowing as a second wave of COVID-19 infections sweeps across the country.
"We expect that this process will be finished in the coming days, once the agency is satisfied that Boeing has addressed the safety issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told FOX Business in a statement. "The FAA continues to engage with aviation authorities around the world as they prepare to validate our certification decision."
Southwest is latest airline to announce rebooking of middle seats on flight during COVID-19.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines each reported deep losses in the third quarter on Thursday, but said they would burn less cash in the months to come as leisure bookings show signs of recovery from this year's coronavirus-driven collapse.