Southwest Airlines Laying Off Thousands, Cutting Services

In an announcement that sent a warning signal across the transportation industry, Southwest Airlines announced on Thursday that it will lay off roughly 2,000 employees. It is also ceasing operations at four global airports.

Both Southwest and American Airlines reported deep losses for the first quarter of 2024. Experts blame delays in Boeing deliveries and soaring labor costs for the financial bleeding.

The holdup from Boeing is keeping both carriers from adding more flights to their schedules as travel demand continues to be elevated.

Southwest reported a $231 million loss, which CEO Bob Jordan called “disappointing.” He said that the company is focused on aspects of its business that it controls and will “adjust” for unmet aircraft delivery schedules.

This setback occurred despite operating revenue increasing 11% to $6.3 billion. The airline lost $159 million in the same period in 2023.

Jordan added that recent announcements of further delivery delays from Boeing will affect both 2024 and 2025.

The number of airliners the company now believes it will receive from Boeing dropped drastically. Just weeks ago the expectation was for 46 new jets, but that number fell 57% to only 20.

Southwest planned to retire 49 aircraft from service this year, but that number also dropped to 35.

Its fleet by the end of 2024 will be approximately 802 aircraft.

The employee layoffs will come from its 74,000 workers, and hiring is also expected to slow. Southwest plans to offer voluntary time off programs as another way to cut costs.

As for closings, Southwest will no longer operate at Cozumel International Airport in Mexico, Syracuse Hancock International Airport in New York, Bellingham International Airport in Washington state and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.