March 14, 2020 / 9:42 PM / 5 months ago

Southwest says 'seriously considering' cutting flights in short term

FILE PHOTO: A Southwest airplane sits on the tarmac in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines (LUV.N), one of the few U.S. airlines still flying a full schedule even as the spreading coronavirus has sapped demand, said on Saturday it was “seriously considering” cutting flights in the short term.

Southwest spokeswoman Michelle Agnew said the company would monitor demand for additional reductions after a first round of cuts, which one source familiar with the matter said could be announced by Wednesday.

Agnew said the company did not have any more details to share at this time.

The low-cost carrier does not fly to any of the destinations that have been affected by health alerts and a growing list of U.S. travel restrictions as coronavirus cases climb worldwide.

However, the airline had already warned that the epidemic could wipe up to $300 million from its first-quarter operating revenue, with Chief Executive Gary Kelly warning earlier this month that reducing prices would not address consumer fear.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Alistair Bell

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