We announced our first quarter results yesterday, and I wanted to provide you with an update on our performance, as well as share with you the status of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
First and foremost, I’d like to start by commending our Employees on their resiliency and perseverance in what was a challenging first quarter on several fronts, including a partial government shutdown, extreme weather throughout the country on an almost weekly basis, and the grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft following the tragic accident of Ethiopian Airlines Flight # 302. I also want to thank our Customers for their patience as we’ve worked through revising our schedule.
Despite these challenges, I’m incredibly proud to report that we did indeed prevail, and we produced net income of $387 million, or $.70 a share – just below the year ago amount. That is an incredible result, especially considering the near-record level of cancellations we had to deal with.
Switching gears, I know many of you have been following the developments surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. On March13, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order to ground all Boeing MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines—a decision we supported and complied with immediately. Southwest owns 34 Boeing MAX aircraft, which will remain out of service until the FAA rescinds this order, and we feel confident that all of the necessary actions have been taken to operate the aircraft safely and reliably.
Safety is our top priority. It always has been, and it always will be. Our commitment to the Safety of our Employees and our Customers is uncompromising. As I have said before, if I am not 100 percent confident we can deliver on our commitment to Safety, I would not hesitate to ground our entire fleet—or any segment of it. That would not be a hard decision for me to make.
We are equally committed to offering our Customers and Employees a reliable schedule and operating the best airline we possibly can. With that in mind, we have been revising our schedule to reduce last-minute flight changes and unexpected disruptions to our Customers’ travel plans. Earlier this month, we modified our schedule through August 5, 2019, to add further stability for Customers traveling during this busy summer season.
We simply don’t have a confirmed timeline to share with regard to when the MAX will return to service. There have been dates ranging from May to July depending on who is commenting. We have our schedule adjusted through August 5th, and if the aircraft are available to fly earlier, we will use them as additional spares to further enhance the reliability of our scheduled service.
We remain in constant contact with the FAA, Boeing, and industry regulators, as well as our Employee Unions and industry peers, to prepare for implementation of software updates and additional training that Boeing and the FAA will provide to all operators worldwide. These enhancements will further advance the safe operation of the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft and add yet another layer of Safety, and I am incredibly encouraged by the path forward. I have the utmost confidence in our People, procedures, airplanes, training, maintenance, and performance monitoring systems, enhanced by our data-focused Safety Management System.
The Boeing 737 is the most successful commercial airplane in aviation history. Our Pilots are the best 737 Pilots in the world. No one knows more and no one is better trained. Southwest has one of the best Safety records in our industry throughout nearly five decades, which is a source of pride for me and all of our entire Southwest Family. Our commitment to Safety is unwavering, and we will never rest in our pursuit to make a safe airline even safer. Once again, thank you for your patience and understanding, and we hope to see you onboard very soon.
Our goal is to operate our planned schedule with as few cancellations and as little impact to our Customers as possible. To support our Customers, our Teams are working diligently to increase reliability and reduce the amount of last-minute flight changes caused by the MAX 8 grounding.
Currently, we have amended our flight schedule through August 5, 2019, to incorporate changes that will occur as a result of our 34 MAX 8 aircraft being taken out of service. We are taking steps to proactively notify Customers affected by these changes.
Please know that there are still other factors to consider when traveling that have potential to impact a scheduled flight on any given day. These factors include but are not limited to weather, unscheduled maintenance, operational delays, etc. As your flight date approaches, you can track the status of your flight using our Flight Status Tool on Southwest.com.
The limited number of Customers who have already booked their travel and will be affected by our amended schedule are being proactively notified of their re-accommodated travel plans, according to our flexible accommodation procedures.
If your new travel plans don’t meet your needs, you can rebook on alternate flights without any additional fees or fare differences between the original city pairs. Or, if your flight is affected and you choose not to reschedule, your funds will be held toward future travel or a refund will be provided upon request.
All Boeing MAX 8 aircraft have been removed from our schedule through August 5, 2019. Our adjusted schedule is already in effect on Southwest.com.
You can return to this page for the latest information on the MAX 8 aircraft, as we’ll be posting ongoing updates here. Thanks for your patience and understanding during this time.
I want to take a moment to provide an update on our current plans surrounding the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. As you might know, Southwest removed the MAX from service on March 13, 2019.
Our Teams are working to further increase the reliability of our schedule and reduce the amount of last-minute flight changes – especially during the upcoming summer travel season. With that in mind, we’ve now modified our schedule through August 5, 2019 to add further stability for Customers booking their summer travel.
While the timing for the return to service of the MAX remains unclear, what is very clear is our commitment to operate a reliable schedule and provide the famous Customer Service you expect from us. Our revised summer schedule allows us to accomplish those objectives.
The limited number of Customers who have already booked their travel and will be affected by this amended schedule are being proactively notified so that we can re- accommodate their flight plans well in advance of their travel date.
While the vast majority of our Customers’ itineraries have remained unaffected, flight schedule changes have inconvenienced some of our valued Customers, and, for that, I offer my sincerest apologies.
Safety has always been our most sacred responsibility to both our Employees and our Customers, and we will continue to remain in full compliance with all FAA directives and any additional requirements necessary to return this aircraft to service.
Again, our goal is to deliver the excellent Customer Service that you’ve come to know and expect from us and we remain steadfastly committed to that. We will continue to keep you informed of any new developments, and we invite you to visit Southwest.com for the latest updates. Thanks for your patience and understanding during this time, and please know that the entire Southwest Team looks forward to serving you soon.
All Boeing MAX 8 aircraft have been removed from our schedule through June 7, 2019. Our adjusted schedule is already in effect on Southwest.com. Customers who have been impacted by this amended schedule are being proactively notified to adjust their travel plans. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
You can return to this landing page for the latest information on the MAX 8 aircraft. Thanks for your patience and understanding during this time.
I want to provide you a quick update on the Boeing MAX airplane. This was the aircraft type that was involved in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident that occurred on March 10. Any time there is a loss of life it is tragic, and our hearts go out to all those affected. The accident is under investigation, but very little is known days later about the cause, and that is a concern. Whether the cause is linked to the earlier Lion Air accident remains a key, unanswered question.
Since Sunday, we have been continually working with the FAA, Boeing, and others within the U.S. government. I have been in contact daily. Effective March 13th, the FAA issued its order to ground the MAX, with our knowledge and support. Boeing agrees as well. We have removed the 34 MAX aircraft from service; they will remain out of service until the FAA rescinds this order. With more than 750 aircraft in our fleet, more than 95 percent of our aircraft are unaffected by this order.
Safety is our top priority. It always has been. It always must be. Our commitment to the Safety of our Employees and our Customers is unwavering and uncompromising. U.S. airlines operate within the most advanced, regulated aviation system in the world. The FAA provides independent oversight that governs the planes we fly and how we fly them. Every detail about the systems used to operate the aircraft are designed, engineered, manufactured, and operated according to that independent oversight.
Boeing has a rich, storied history of success in aerospace, and they are a talented and major part of this advanced aviation system. Southwest® has a long history with the 737 and a stellar safety record. In 48 years, it’s the only aircraft we’ve flown. We’ve been part of the Boeing 737 story as it’s developed over time. The MAX is the latest version—rather than an all-new aircraft.
Our experience with the MAX, along with the other U.S. operators, has been phenomenal. We’ve operated over 40,000 flights covering almost 90,000 hours. There is a ton of data collected, which we continuously monitor. In all of our analysis since our first flight in 2017, nothing has presented any flight safety concerns. It has been a superb addition to our fleet. It is also important to add that all Pilots at Southwest are deeply experienced and highly trained, as they are at our other U.S. counterparts that fly the MAX. Our Mechanics are also highly experienced and trained to safely maintain every airplane in our fleet.
Based on all the extensive data that we, our U.S. counterparts, and the FAA have access to, there is no reason to question the safety of our MAX airplanes. That makes sense because that’s the way our aerospace and aviation system is designed to work. History proves—air travel is extraordinarily safe.
Which takes us to the question of, what happened with Ethiopian Flight 302? We don’t know. We aren’t learning fast enough. So, we have a temporary grounding.
I realize this disruption will inconvenience our Customers during this busy spring travel season, and we will do everything in our power to mitigate the impact to our operation. For that, I offer my sincere apologies. To support our Customers, we are offering flexible rebooking policies for any Customer booked on a canceled flight.
Nothing is more sacred to all of our Southwest Family Members than the trust our Customers place in our airline every day, on every flight. You have our commitment to minimize the disruptions to our Customers’ travel plans, while adhering to the FAA’s requirements and ensuring the Safety of our fleet.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. We will provide frequent updates to you as this story develops.
Until further notice, you will not be traveling on a 737 MAX 8. Our goal is to operate our schedule with every available aircraft in our fleet to meet our Customers’ expectations during the busy spring travel season.
Due to high call volumes and extended hold times, we strongly encourage Customers to check their flight status at Southwest.com.
For more information, see the 737 MAX 8 Travel Advisory.