The financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic on airlines is continuing with Southwest Airlines in the USA reporting a first quarter loss of $94 million while warning investors the worst is yet to come.
Despite receiving an estimated $3.3 billion in the form of grants and loans under the CARES Act, a letter to Southwest employees states the money does not fully cover payroll costs through to September of this year.
The letter, written by CEO Gary Kelly, continues to declare that downsizing its operation may be necessary if the record low travel demand does not drastically improve over the coming summer months.
Southwest has joined other major carriers like JetBlue in requiring all employees and passengers to wear face coverings or masks in airports and during flights. The same measure has also been introduced in the UK by low cost airline Wizz Air.
Additional safety measures being carried out by Southwest include deep disinfection of aircraft and only booking limited numbers of passengers on the flights it is operating. Explaining these measures Gary Kelly says, “It’s as safe as an environment as you’re going to find,”.
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Budget airline Wizz Air will resume some routes from Luton airport May 1 with passengers required to wear face masks in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.