Southwest Airlines today became the first airline in the world to report a quarterly profit since … [+] the Covid-19 pandemic first caused air travel demand to crater more than a year ago. AARON BAUER-GRIFFIN/Getty Images
Southwest Airlines got by with a little help from its friends (in Congress) and scored its troubled industry’s first profitable quarter since the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic were first experienced in February 2010.
Meanwhile, both American and Alaska airlines reported big first-quarter losses but, like other carriers, they say are seeing significantly improved travel demand conditions for this summer.
Southwest’s first-quarter earnings – $116 million, or 19 cents a share – were small by its normal standards. And they largely were the result of receiving $1.2 billion in federal Payroll Support Program dollars authorized by Congress to keep U.S. carriers afloat during the pandemic. Without that support, Southwest would have reported a $1 billion loss. Nevertheless, after posting four money-losing quarters and its first annual loss in 48 years due to the pandemic, Southwest did return to official net profitability ahead of all other carriers – both in the U…