Updated March 31, 2020 - 3:52 pm
Southwest Airlines has reduced its flight schedule by nearly 40 percent from its peak levels, McCarran International Airport’s largest carrier announced Tuesday.
The new flight schedule, covering travel between May 3 and June 5, decreases flight activity by about 2,000 flights a day because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the airline said in a news release.
The cuts proactively address significantly lower passenger demand, operational disruptions and the ongoing suspension of Southwest’s international service, the news release read.
“As travel demand continues to be very weak for the period between Easter and the traditional start of summer travel, today we’re beginning to push out a new flight schedule for May 3 through June 5,” Andrew Watterson, chief commercial officer for Southwest said in a blog entry on the airline’s website. “The schedule will take several days to deploy as it brings changes to many customers holding travel plans with us. In the majority of cases, we’ll be reaching out to share minor changes, such as new flight times, new flight numbers or changes in routing, and we’ll provide additional flexibility under our policies.”
Southwest’s daily operations will be shortened with the removal of many departures previously scheduled before 7 a.m. and after 8 p.m, Watterson said.
All but six cities Southwest services across the country will see a decrease in flight activity, which is intended to be temporary.
“Southwest will maintain passenger service to every city it serves, moving cargo around the country, and facilitating customers’ essential travel between nearly every city-pair we previously offered,” the release said. “Some nonstop flights could now require a same-plane stop or a connection.”
The airline previously canceled around 1,500 of its almost 4,000 daily flights because of the drop in passenger demand.
Customers who already booked flights with Southwest that will be affected will receive updates and will be offered additional flexibility within the airline’s policies for flight changes in the novel coronavirus environment.