Southwest forecasts a slower recovery in business travel

Southwest Airlines said Thursday that corporate travel is recovering more slowly than the airline expected, though that is offset by continued strong demand from leisure travelers even after the end of the traditional summer vacation season.

Southwest said “managed” business travel revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 will decline 26% to 28% from 2019 levels. That’s a reversal from Southwest’s earlier forecast of a decline from 17% to 21%, which the airline attributed to “weaker” last-minute business travel bookings since the end of July.

However, the Dallas-based airline said business travel picked up after Labor Day, as it usually does, echoing similar comments from Delta Air Lines on Wednesday.

Southwest primarily caters to leisure travelers, but has been making a big push to attract more corporate business, putting it in more direct competition with American, Delta and United.

Southwest offered the third-quarter commentary in a securities presentation that generally repeated previous forecasts, including that overall revenue will be about 10% higher than the same period in 2019. Southwest said it had a strong Day weekend. of Labor and that income still has a higher trend than in 2019.

“Although early in the booking curve, the company continues to see strong revenue trends in the fourth quarter of 2022,” he said.

Shares of Southwest fell more than 2% in morning trading, while shares of other major US airlines rose 2-3%.

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