: Southwest returns to normal flight schedule as refunds continue


Southwest Airlines Co. CEO Bob Jordan said he was deeply sorry for the airline’s 15,000-plus flight cancellations as the major U.S. carrier returned on Friday to a normal schedule for the first time in more than a week.

“There’s just no way almost to apologize enough because we love our customers, we love our people and we really impacted their plans,” Jordan said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday.

Jordan said he had spoken with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and that the carrier plans to refund customers for hotel stays, meals and bookings on other airlines as part of its effort to mitigate the impact of the cancellations on thousands of travelers after a winter storm hit the U.S. starting on Dec. 22.

On Friday, Southwest’s travel-disruption website continued to collect information for passengers looking to obtain refunds. The airline said all customers traveling through Jan.  2 will be able to rebook flights in the original class of service, or travel standby, within 30 days of their original date of travel without paying additional charges. Rebookings must be between the original cities of departure and arrival and be in accordance with Southwest’s accommodation procedures.

Also read: Buttigieg vows to hold Southwest Airlines ‘accountable’ for meltdown

The airline was running on a reduced schedule Wednesday and Thursday after more serious disruptions over the Christmas holiday weekend and returned to a full slate of 3,900 flights a day on Friday, Jordan said.

Shares of Southwest

rose 0.8% to finish out the last day of regular trading of 2022 in positive territory.

The stock is down about 8.3% since the flight troubles began on Dec. 22, compared with a 1.6% loss by the S&P 500
a drop of 3.2% by United Airlines Holdings Inc.
a loss of 2.5% by American Airlines Group Inc.

and a decline of 2.4% by Delta Air Lines Inc.

over the same period.

In a boost for the stock, CFRA analyst Aaron Siegel on Thursday reiterated a strong buy on Southwest Airlines and said he sees the company’s revenue recovering to prepandemic levels “faster than most peers given its strong brand and domestic leisure focus.” He added that he also sees “faster margin recovery given its strength in cost control.”

Despite the airline’s woes in recent days, analysts have yet to trim their fourth-quarter earnings estimates for Southwest, according to FactSet data. Analysts currently expect Southwest to report fourth-quarter earnings of 79 cents a share, according to estimates compiled by FactSet. On Nov. 30, analysts expected Southwest to earn 77 cents a share, on average.

Analysts typically break out one-time costs in their quarterly estimates, however.

Southwest is due to report earnings on Jan. 26.

Tomi Kilgore contributed to this report.

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