Southwest Airlines Posts Biggest-Ever Loss as Pandemic Hurts Summer Travel

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet takes off from San Antonio International Airport in Texas.
Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Southwest Airlines on Thursday reported a third-quarter loss of $1.16 billion -- the biggest loss in its history -- after reporting a profit in the same period a year earlier, CNBC reported.

The Dallas-based company said it had a loss of $1.96 per share. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring gains, came to $1.99 per share.

The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 13 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for a loss of $2.44 per share.

“We are encouraged by modest improvements in leisure passenger traffic trends since the slowdown in demand experienced in July,” CEO Gary Kelly said in an earnings release reported by CNBC. “However, until we have widely-available vaccines and achieve herd immunity, we expect passenger traffic and booking trends to remain fragile.”

The airline posted revenue of $1.79 billion in the period, also surpassing Street forecasts. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $1.68 billion.

Southwest shares have declined 26% since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index has risen slightly more than 6%. The stock has dropped 25% in the last 12 months.

Copyright NBC 5 News and The Associated Press
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