Apr 25, 2024 - News

Southwest to leave Bush Airport amid Boeing issues

Photo of a Southwest aircraft in the sky

Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Southwest Airlines will stop flying in and out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in August, just a few years after returning to the airport.

The big picture: The Dallas-based airline announced Thursday that it's cutting operations at four airports — including Cozumel International Airport in Mexico, Bellingham International Airport in Washington, and Syracuse Hancock International Airport in New York — after losing $231 million in the first quarter.

  • It's also reducing capacity at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O'Hare International Airport and will limit hiring but did not indicate it will lay off employees.

Between the lines: As an entirely Boeing-fleet airline, Southwest is especially vulnerable as Boeing deals with safety issues and slowed production.

  • Southwest CEO Bob Jordan said the Boeing news "presents significant challenges for both 2024 and 2025."
  • Southwest now expects to get only 20 new 737 Max 8 jets from Boeing this year, down from the 46 it anticipated, per the airline's first-quarter report.

What they're saying: "While it is disappointing to incur a first quarter loss … we are focused on controlling what we can control and have already taken swift action to address our financial underperformance and adjust for revised aircraft delivery expectations," Jordan said in the report.

State of play: Southwest expects to end 2024 with approximately 2,000 fewer employees than it had at the end of 2023.

  • The airline currently has nearly 75,000 employees.

Flashback: Southwest flew out of Bush up until 2005, and then returned in April 2021 as part of the company's expansion.

Southwest will remain at William P. Hobby Airport, where the airline made up about 90% of the flights in 2023 and which ranks No. 7 for Southwest flights nationally in terms of booked seats.

What we're watching: The Houston Airport System is in conversation with other domestic air carriers that want to expand service at Bush Airport, Jim Szczesniak, director of aviation for Houston Airports, said in a statement.

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