Southwest Airlines trims cash burn, will keep middle seats open through November

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A bird flies by in the foreground as a Southwest Airlines jet comes in for a landing at McCarran International Airport on May 25, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ethan Miller | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines on Wednesday said it has logged a “modest” improvement in bookings through October, helping it trim its daily cash burn estimate for this quarter by $3 million to an expected $17 million.

Despite the uptick in bookings, the Dallas-based airline expects revenue to drop 65% to 75% in October and capacity to be down 40% to 50% from the same month last year as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hurt travel demand. It forecast November capacity to drop 35% to 40% from 2019.

Southwest said it would extend a policy that leaves middle seats open on its flights, except for travelers in the same party, through the end of November, an effort to calm travelers nervous about flying in a pandemic and better compete at the start of the end-of-year holidays. Delta Air Lines, for example, last month said it would limit capacity on flights through Jan. 6.

Southwest shares were up more than 3% in morning trading.

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