Southwest Airlines sees ‘deceleration’ in revenue improvements in November, December

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Southwest Airlines Co. reported October operational data that was at the better part of previously provided guidance ranges, while providing a somewhat downbeat outlook for the rest of the year. The stock fell 1.9% in premarket trading, while the U.S. Global Jets ETF slipped 0.8% and futures for the S&P 500 eased 0.5%. October operating revenue fell approximately 65% from a year ago, compared with a previous estimate of down 65% to down 70%; load factor was about 55%, versus a previous estimate of 50% to 55%; and capacity (available seat miles) was down about 44%, compared with expectations of down about 45%. Looking ahead, Southwest expects revenue to be down 60% to 65% in November and to remain down 60% to 65% in December. Load factor expected to be 50% to 55% in November and improve 60% to 70% in December, while capacity is expected to down about 35% in November and decline further to down 40% to down 45% in December. After experiencing a “stall” in improving revenue trends in July, due to a rise in COVID-19 cases, there was “modest improvements” in August through October. The company said it has experienced a deceleration in improving revenue trends for November and December in recent weeks. “While the company expected the election to impact trends, it is unclear whether the softness in booking trends is also a direct result of the recent rise in COVID-19 cases. As such, the Company remains cautious in this uncertain revenue environment,” the company said in a statement.
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