Southwest Airlines continues to see strong demand from vacationers but is still waiting on business travelers to return to their pre-COVID-19 travel habits.
The airline’s CEO, Bob Jordan, told analysts during an earnings call last week that the airline’s network is “largely restored at this point” but is ”not optimized” given the current pattern of demand. Prior to the pandemic, business travelers tended to book frequent short-haul flights and travel in the middle of the week. That mid-week market is still in the doldrums even as the airline enjoys strong demand from vacationers.
Southwest now plans to revise its 2024 flight schedule and staffing to better match market demand across its network.
The airline flew about 36 million passengers in the second quarter, a 7.5 percent increase compared to the second quarter of 2022. It expects demand from vacationers to remain strong for the rest of the year. When business travel will return to its pre-pandemic level remains anyone’s guess.