Over the last few months, we’ve seen a gradual contraction of the airline industry globally. Many airlines have cut schedules and made changes in response to sinking customer demand. A few days back, I wrote about how travel is about to change in a big way and won’t return to normal any time soon. As frequent travelers, we’re all waiting for things to return to normal. While the picture isn’t very rosy, we saw an encouraging bit of news today from Southwest Airlines pertaining to their plans for 2021.
Southwest CEO reveals 2021 plans
Southwest’s CEO Gary Kelly revealed the details via a video that he posted on Twitter. He uses the video series ‘Ask Gary’ as a way to answer customer questions.
Last week we began resuming our international operation, which has been on a three-month pause prompted by the #COVID19 pandemic. Tune in for an update on how we’re reestablishing our international service in a way that prioritizes the Safety of our People, Crews, and Customers. pic.twitter.com/MLxcTrsU7X
— Gary Kelly (@gary_kelly) July 8, 2020
Southwest aims to resume all international flights to their Central American and Caribbean destinations by early 2021. Southwest’s CEO outlined that they have an internal team that’s dedicated to working on reopening plans for these destinations.
In the video, Gary Kelly outlined the three priorities for Southwest as they aim to resume these flights:
- Safety of people, crews and customers
- Quality of customer experience
- Profitability of the route
Airlines across the world are facing a tough road ahead. On one hand, they’d want to resume flights as soon as possible. However, they’re not seeing customer demand catch up at the same pace. Even after demand rebounds, they’re tasked with convincing a major chunk of returning customers that it’s safe to fly again. For many frequent travelers, it won’t be much of a deal. However, for occasional travelers, airlines will definitely be pulling all stops as they look to entice customers into flying again at the same frequency as before.
The Pundit’s Mantra
If things stabilize on the public health front, we could well see a resumption by the end of the year during holiday season. Since most of these destinations are leisure destinations, Southwest will be looking to capitalize on any uptick in demand during the holiday season at the end of the year.
A resumption could be a great news in more ways than one. Obviously, people will be extremely happy to travel again. However, folks who still have their Southwest companion passes active in 2021 would love to put them to good use for these flights. Also, it could also give many people an opportunity to redeem their Southwest points for flights or transfer over Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest.
If Southwest’s plans materialize, where do you plan to fly next using your Southwest points or companion pass? Tell us in the comments section.
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