Southwest Says Travel Bookings Continue to Improve Amid Rising Fuel Costs

Orlando, Florida, USA - December 2, 2013: A curved winglet with the Southwest.
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Southwest Airlines announced Wednesday that the company continues to experience improvements in leisure passenger demand and travel bookings for June, approaching pre-pandemic levels.

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The airline said that while the average April flight was 79% full, June flights are expected to be 85% full, reports the Associated Press. Southwest said in a regulatory filing released Wednesday that it has sold 55% of the seats it expects to fill in June and 35% for July. The company stated that these represent “fairly typical” booking patterns.

According to the Dallas-based company, June revenue will likely be down 20% to 25% compared to June 2019, a marked improvement from this month when sales are expected to be down 40% from 2019, as reported by CNBC.

“Passenger demand and booking trends remain primarily leisure-oriented and inconsistent by region,” Southwest said in a filing, as noted by CNBC. “Despite recent improvements in leisure demand, the company remains cautious and continues to plan for multiple fleet and capacity scenarios.”

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According to CNBC, jet fuel prices have climbed by 33% this year as more customers return to air travel. Southwest also noted rising fuel costs for the quarter, leaving some to question whether the recent Colonial pipeline attack could affect the price of airline tickets.

“Fuel purchases typically represent the most significant expenses for commercial airlines,” said Kevin Kennedy, an analyst with IBISWorld, a market research firm, as reported by The Hill. He added that the fuel has historically accounted for almost 20% of operating expenses for airlines.

“A prolonged disruption of the fuel supply will undoubtedly affect profitability,” he said.

Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways said the pipeline hack hasn’t disrupted their operations and according to data from Airlines for America, airfare prices are 24% cheaper than they were pre-pandemic, as reported by The Hill.

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Josephine Nesbit is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and personal finance. She grew up in New England but is now based out of Ohio where she attended The Ohio State University and lives with her two toddlers and fiancé. Her work has appeared in print and online publications such as Fox Business and Scotsman Guide.
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