Southwest Airlines reports first-quarter net loss of US$278 million

©Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has reported its first-quarter 2022 financial results. The company posted a net loss of US$278 million, excluding special items, a net loss of US$191 million down 8.8% compared with first-quarter 2019. Cash provided by operations was US$1.1 billion.

The company was encouraged by the sharp rebound in revenue trends in March 2022, despite US$430 million of headwinds experienced during first quarter 2022. Approximately US$380 million of the operating revenue headwinds related to softness in bookings and increased passenger cancellations in January and February 2022 associated with the Omicron COVID-19 variant, which is higher than the company’s previous estimate of US$330 million. In addition, the company’s flight cancellations in January 2022 due to available staffing challenges—exacerbated by bad weather—resulted in a US$50 million negative impact on operating revenues, as previously estimated.

The company’s first quarter 2022 revenue performance from its loyalty programme was strong and included incremental revenue from its new co-brand credit card agreement, as expected. First-quarter 2022 managed business revenues decreased 55%, compared with first-quarter 2019. March 2022 managed business revenues decreased 36% compared with March 2019, outperforming the company’s previous guidance of down approximately 40%, driven by an increase in business passengers and yields and boosted by its participation in Global Distribution System (GDS) platforms. Despite March 2022 managed business passengers and revenues being below March 2019 levels, managed business fares exceeded March 2019, representing the first monthly increase relative to respective 2019 levels since the pandemic began.

Continuing into April, the company continued to experience strong leisure bookings for spring and summer travel and improved managed business revenue trends broadly across the network. The company currently expects April 2022 managed business revenues to have decreased by approximately 30%, compared with April 2019 and currently expects continued sequential improvement in May and June 2022, compared with its respective 2019 levels.

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