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How Southwest knows a route is safe

Written by Fabio Almeida on July 24, 2020 at 12:55 AM UTC

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Southwest Airlines has resumed its operations to a variety of international destinations. The CEO Gary Kelly said "A cross-departmental team has been meeting weekly, since late-March, when international borders started closing. They monitor the countries that are ready to start welcoming visitors back – as these are primarily leisure destinations for us." They have criteria that they follow when trying to make these decisions:

  1. Safety of people, crews, and customers: This is based on destination countries' safety measures, which includes cleaning and hygiene protocols.
  2. Quality of customer experience: This includes actions that might be required before departure and health screenings or local quarantine regulations. Kelly also adds that the availability of hotels, restaurants, and other activities for customers/tourists is a factor.
  3. The profitability of route: Any route resumed must help the airline to reduce its overall cash burn. Commercial teams have contingencies in place if local conditions aren't conducive or the demand isn't there. Thus, the airline can pivot and reduce flight its schedule to a destination if needed.

They hope to continue reopening their international destinations since people want to fly still, even though they really shouldn't. The airline expects to start a new international service out of Phoenix in early October, and they plan on flying to all of their international destinations by early 2021.

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