Southwest Airlines will cancel approximately 1,000 flights daily starting Sunday, the carrier told employees Friday.
Due to waning demand for travel, Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) said it's canceling 1,000 daily flights Sunday through Wednesday next week.
"We'll continue to evaluate the need for schedule adjustments beyond that date," Cetta Larabee, director of Inflight Crew Scheduling and Crew Ops Support, told employees in an internal memo Friday viewed by the Dallas Business Journal. "We expect that this level of cancellation will continue until the previously revised schedule begins on April 14."
In peak time, Southwest flies more than 4,000 flights a day.
Dallas-based Southwest disclosed earlier this week it would reduce capacity by at least 20 percent between April 14 and June 5. The company said it experienced several days of net negative bookings. That means it's had more cancellations than new bookings, particularly for its schedule in March and April.
It's not clear where Southwest will pare its schedule. A Southwest spokesperson said the company wasn't disclosing cancelled flight totals by market to media because of the daily fluctuations. He advised customers check their flight status on the company's website.
"We are doing everything we can to continue taking care of our employees and our customers and are looking to reduce flights in such a way that our employees will have the opportunity to commute to and from work, and our customers will have other flight options," Larabee wrote.
Southwest's decision to slash flights follows moves by other carriers, such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, which have each taken a hit to both international and domestic business as the coronavirus wreaks havoc on airlines. The vast majority of Southwest's schedule is domestic.
Additionally, Larabee said employees will still be allowed to go to work in California because Southwest is considered critical to the infrastructure of and vital to the country. California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently ordered residents to stay home. Southwest has said previously it's the largest carrier in California.