Southwest posts a 1Q loss and will limit hiring, offer voluntary leave to staff and drop 4 airports

Southwest Airlines said Thursday that it lost $231 million in the first quarter and will limit hiring, offer voluntary leave to employees, and stop flying to four airports.

CEO Robert Jordan said the airline expects to end this year with 2,000 fewer employees than it had at the end of last year.

Jordan said Southwest was reacting quickly “to address our financial underperformance” and cope with delayed deliveries of new planes from Boeing. The airline expects to have 802 aircraft by the end of the year, down from an earlier plan for 814 planes.

Southwest said that it will stop flying to Cozumel, Mexico; Syracuse, New York; Bellingham, Washington; and George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, where the airline’s major operation is at the smaller Hobby Airport.

The Dallas-based airline said the loss, after excluding special items, was 36 cents per share. That was slightly worse than the loss of 34 cents per share that Wall Street expected, according to a FactSet survey.

Revenue rose to $6.33 billion, below analysts’ forecast of $6.42 billion.

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