Apr 28, 2020 - Economy & Business

Airlines' first-quarter earnings reveal scope of coronavirus pain

Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines reported Tuesday a first-quarter net loss of $94 million as the coronavirus pandemic brings the airline industry to its knees.

The big picture: It's clear the pandemic has painfully impacted the travel industry, specifically airlines, which are now reporting their losses during 2020's first quarter as U.S. travel plunges 95% from the same time last year.

Why it matters: This is the first time Southwest has reported a loss in nearly a decade.

  • The airline doesn't fly to Asia, so it felt the pain of the pandemic later than its competitors.
  • The company is cutting its schedule through July — normally a peak travel season — as flight cancellations remain at an unprecedented high.
  • Southwest notes they have been able to maintain their liquidity, but aren't able to project revenue past May.

Worth noting, per Axios' Joann Muller: Southwest's quarterly report also disclosed that there could be further delays in the return to flight for Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX fleet.

  • Citing new information from Boeing on the MAX's return-to-service date, Southwest said it doesn't expect to be flying the trouble aircraft before Oct. 30, adding to the woes for both companies.
  • Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What's next: Other airlines will be reporting their first-quarter numbers in the next week or so.

Go deeper: A lifeline emerges for the devastated airline industry

Go deeper

As techlash heats up again, here's who's stoking the fire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As controversies around online speech rage against a backdrop of racial tension, presidential provocation and a pandemic, a handful of companies, lawmakers and advocacy groups have continued to promote a backlash against Big Tech.

The big picture: Companies like Facebook and Google got a reputational boost at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, but that respite from criticism proved brief. They're now once again walking a minefield of regulatory investigations, public criticism and legislative threats over antitrust concerns, content moderation and privacy concerns.

Cities are retooling public transit to lure riders back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After being told for months to stay away from others, the idea of being shoulder to shoulder again in a bus or subway terrifies many people, requiring sweeping changes to public transit systems for the COVID-19 era.

Why it matters: Cities can't come close to resuming normal economic activity until large numbers of people feel comfortable using public transportation.

The policies that could help fix policing

 Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

George Floyd's death has reignited the long and frustrating push to reform a law enforcement system whose systemic flaws have been visible for years.

Why it matters: Solving these problems will require deep political, structural and cultural changes, experts and advocates say — but they also point to a handful of specific policy changes that, while not a cure, would make a difference.