The worst appears to be over for airlines. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting for the summer travel frenzy to begin.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines on Thursday were the last two major U.S. airlines to report financial results for the first three months of the year. American lost nearly $1.3 billion, while Southwest earned $116 million, a welcome profit after weathering its first annual loss in half a century last year.
“While the pandemic is not over, we believe the worst is behind us, in terms of the severity of the negative impact on travel demand,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman, said in a statement. “Vaccinations are on the rise, and Covid-19 hospitalizations in the United States are down significantly from their peak in January 2021. As a result, we are experiencing steady weekly improvements in domestic leisure bookings, which began in mid-February 2021.”
That sentiment is shared across the industry.
“With the momentum underway from the first quarter, we see signs of continued recovery in demand,” Doug Parker, American’s chief executive, said in a statement on Thursday. His counterpart at United Airlines issued a similarly hopeful statement this week, despite posting a loss of $1.4 billion. Last week, Delta Air Lines reported a $1.2 billion loss.
The industry has…