Southwest Airlines on Thursday reported a web loss of $278 million within the first three months of the 12 months but echoed the optimism of different carriers concerning the months forward, saying it has already expanded its work pressure by 3,300 workers, or about 6 p.c, this 12 months.
“While the impact from the Omicron variant in January and February disrupted our anticipated profit recovery in first quarter 2022, we returned to strong profitability in March 2022 on surging travel demand,” Bob Jordan, Southwest’s chief govt, stated in a assertion.
Despite excessive gasoline costs and suppressed demand for company travel, Mr. Jordan stated, the airline expects to be “solidly profitable” for the remainder of the 12 months.
But the corporate could discover it tough to return to and exceed 2019 staffing ranges. More than 15 p.c of Southwest workers have joined the airline since autumn, Mr. Jordan stated on a name with traders and analysts, noting that many are nonetheless studying and should not but as productive as they might be. The airline now plans to add 10,000 workers this 12 months, a rise from a January projection of 8,000. Bringing on and coaching new pilots is very essential, Mr. Jordan stated.
“Now when you get to ‘Where are you most constrained?,’ definitely it’s pilots,” he stated. “And to some extent it’s our flight instructors to train our pilots.”
In February, Southwest completed retraining all of its pilots who took long-term depart throughout the pandemic, Mr. Jordan stated. Now, it’s attempting to exchange the a whole lot who took buyouts, a course of that’s between half and two-thirds full, he stated.
The trade struggled with staffing shortages and passenger cancellations attributable to the Omicron variant of the coronavirus within the first two months of the 12 months, but reported a substantial turnaround in March. In April, Southwest has continued to see robust gross sales for leisure travel and enhancements in company travel, a profitable a part of any airline’s enterprise.
The airline reported taking in $4.7 billion in working revenues within the first quarter, down practically 9 p.c from the identical interval in 2019. But Southwest stated it anticipated income could be up between 8 and 12 p.c within the second quarter. The airline additionally stated it anticipated capability for the 12 months to be about 4 p.c beneath 2019 ranges.
Like United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and different carriers, Southwest stated it anticipated the value of jet gasoline to be increased from April by way of June than it was within the first three months of the 12 months, rising to simply over $3 from $2.30 per gallon. But in contrast to most different U.S. airways, Southwest expects to profit from a technique of financially hedging towards gasoline spikes, shaving an estimated 61 cents from the price within the second quarter, it stated. The airline stated it anticipated that apply to reserve it $1 billion this 12 months.
The airline additionally plans to introduce h its new fare class, Wanna Get Away Plus, within the second quarter.