Southwest Airways on Thursday reported a web lack of $278 million within the first three months of the yr however echoed the optimism of different carriers concerning the months forward, saying it has already expanded its work pressure by 3,300 staff, or about 6 p.c, this yr .
“Whereas the impression from the Omicron variant in January and February disrupted our anticipated revenue restoration in first quarter 2022, we returned to robust profitability in March 2022 on surging journey demand,” Bob Jordan, Southwest’s chief govt, mentioned in a press release.
Regardless of excessive gasoline costs and suppressed demand for company journey, Mr. Jordan mentioned, the airline expects to be “solidly worthwhile” for the remainder of the yr.
However the firm might discover it troublesome to return to and exceed 2019 staffing ranges. Greater than 15 p.c of Southwest staff have joined the airline since autumn, Mr. Jordan mentioned on a name with buyers and analysts, noting that many are nonetheless studying and will not be but as productive as they could possibly be. The airline now plans so as to add 10,000 staff this yr, a rise from a January projection of 8,000. Bringing on and coaching new pilots is very essential, Mr. Jordan mentioned.
“Now whenever you get to ‘The place are you most constrained?,’ undoubtedly it is pilots,” he mentioned. “And to some extent it is our flight instructors to coach our pilots.”
In February, Southwest completed retraining all of its pilots who took long-term depart through the pandemic, Mr. Jordan mentioned. Now, it’s attempting to interchange the a whole bunch who took buyouts, a course of that’s between half and two-thirds full, he mentioned.
The business struggled with staffing shortages and passenger cancellations brought on by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus within the first two months of the yr, however reported a considerable turnaround in March. In April, Southwest has continued to see robust gross sales for leisure journey and enhancements in company journey, 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 almost 9 p.c from the identical interval in 2019. However Southwest mentioned it anticipated income could be up between 8 and 12 p.c within the second quarter. The airline additionally mentioned it anticipated capability for the yr to be about 4 p.c beneath 2019 ranges.
Like United Airways, Delta Air Traces and different carriers, Southwest mentioned it anticipated the worth of jet gasoline to be increased from April by means of June than it was within the first three months of the yr, rising to simply over $3 from $2.30 per gallon. However not like most different US 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 mentioned. The airline mentioned it anticipated that follow to put it aside $1 billion this yr.
The airline additionally plans to introduce its new fare class, Wanna Get Away Plus, within the second quarter.