Southwest Airlines is raising its forecast for fourth-quarter revenue after a strong Thanksgiving holiday and says it aims to be profitable in every quarter next year by hiring enough workers and improving reliability, which sagged when passenger numbers rose sharply this summer.
Dallas-based Southwest said Wednesday that fourth-quarter revenue will be 10% to 15% below the same period in 2019 — an improvement over an earlier forecast that revenue would fall by 15% to 25% from 2019 levels.
In a regulatory filing, Southwest said demand was strong over Thanksgiving and “leisure bookings continue to come in above expectations for December travel.”
The airline also laid out a five-year plan to raise revenue with a new credit-card deal with JPMorgan Chase, by capturing more business travel and other measures. The company expects to spend between $1 billion and $2.5 billion per year from 2023 through 2026 to overhaul its fleet with new Boeing 737 Max planes.
Southwest officials were expected to provide more details Wednesday during a meeting with analysts in New York.
Southwest, the fourth-largest U.S. airline by revenue, is entering a transition from longtime CEO Gary Kelly to Robert Jordan, the company president who will become CEO on Feb. 1.
Shares of Southwest Airlines Co. rose 1.5% in late-morning trading, less than other major U.S. airlines.