Coronavirus Forces Southwest to Cuts 1,500 Daily Flights

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As the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the airline industry, Southwest Airlines on Tuesday announced plans to cancel 1,500 daily flights.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly told employees in a videotaped message that the airline is in the "fight of our lives'' to protect the company and its operations. 

"The pandemic and the government response have sunk passenger levels and future bookings to unimaginable lows across the industry,'' he said.

The cancellations, which represent almost 40 percent of the airline's 4,000 daily flights, go into effect Friday, a Southwest spokesperson says. "We'll implement the cancellations on a rolling, multiple-day basis to provide customers with advance notice of changes and alternate flight options," according to the rep.

The announcement comes just days after Southwest executives said they'd likely be pulling the plug on 1,000 daily flights. Prior to that, they announced plans to cut flights by 20 percent between April 14th and June 5th.

Southwest is also considering an emergency time-off program, where employees can take off a minimum of one month with partial pay, the airline told employees.

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