DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — Southwest Airlines is the next carrier planning to cut back on the number of flights it will offer this fall. These cuts are due to the drop in travel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions.
A spokesman for Southwest tells News 8, “These are system-wide and affect most of our domestic network, including BDL (Bradley International Airport).”
The Connecticut Airport Authority was more definitive on how the cuts will impact service at Bradley:
As is the case with all airlines, Southwest’s schedule has remained in flux throughout the pandemic. A number of these airline schedule changes are a reflection of the reduced demand that has resulted from the state’s travel order. In the month of September, we have been advised by Southwest that all nonstop destinations will be suspended, with the exception of Baltimore and Chicago. However, passengers will still be able to access Southwest’s entire route network by connecting through one of those two cities.Connecticut Airport Authority
The airline says the number of available seats will drop 40 percent in September compared to the same period of time in 2019. Southwest had previously predicted capacity would only drop around 25 percent.
Southwest also expects October capacity to be reduced by 40-50 percent.
According to a Wednesday filing, the carrier is making the move after what it called “modest improvements” in August bookings.
The Dallas-based carrier anticipated revenue will fall around 75 percent from August 2019. Southwest previously forecast a drop of as much as 80 percent.
The moves are in response to booking trends and inconsistent passenger demand, according to the filing.
Hotels, car rentals, retail shops within airports were also affected when the pandemic hit and will most likely feel the impact again.
Brian Marks is the senior lecturer at the Dept. of Economics and Business Analytics at the University of New Haven.
“There was a significant ripple effect as a result of COVID-19,” he said, “and the various implications associated with first stay-at-home and now travel restrictions.”
He says airlines now need to examine asset allocations and look to reduce costs. All while being fronted potentially with the increasing cost of operations to provide a safe, secure, and healthy environment for travelers.
“Look, Hertz Rent-A-Car declared bankruptcy,” he explained. “Why did they declare bankruptcy? One, they saw a significant decrease in demand. Two, they had significantly lease liability, not just retail physical locations but a lot of automobiles.”
Marks says even when things do open back up fully people will have to have a lot of trust and confidence in airlines to bring them back safely and cautiously.