Southwest Announces Route Cancellations

Daniel Fowkes
26 Apr 2024
· Airlines 
· Airport 
· Routes 
A Southwest Boeing 737-700 arriving into San Francisco

Southwest is continuing to battle delivery delays for its 737 MAX jets, and now it is being forced to cancel routes.

During its first quarter 2024 results, Southwest published a net loss of USD 231 million, with first-quarter operating revenues of USD 6.3 billion.

However, some of the more telling difficulties came from an inability to acquire Boeing jets on time, thus impacting its ability to offer a robust schedule.

Boeing 737 MAX Delivery Problems

Southwest says that achieving its financial goals is one of the more immediate objectives; this is also deemed imperative. However, with further delivery delays for MAX jets, Southwest forecasts a turbulent next couple of years.

The U.S. carrier says it has been busy adjusting its schedule and attempting to find ways to mitigate the losses felt from the delayed deliveries. However, Southwest is more than aware there’s only so much it can do to limit the negative ramifications.

Southwest forecasts considerable operational and financial impact from the continued delays, likely to stretch into 2025, if not longer. The airline has been forced to slash its forecast continuously because of the escalating and worsening situation at Boeing.

Fleet Changes In 2024

Southwest used the Q1 results to announce its plans regarding the existing and future fleet, making further adjustments.

The airline expects just 20 737-8 deliveries across the 2024 calendar year, with 35 aircraft retirements. The retirements will primarily focus on 737NGs, with the bulk being for 737-700s and just four 737-800s.

However, the more telling tale is the reduced forecasted airline deliveries from the MAX series. The previous plan was for 46 MAX deliveries. However, Boeing won’t be able to meet that. While delivery delays steal the show, the carrier will be forced to retain existing aircraft destined for retirement longer than expected.

Southwest was expecting to take delivery of the 737-7 in 2024. However, thanks to new difficulties at the plane maker this seems unlikely.

2024 was also earmarked as the year Southwest would take on the 737-7. However, because of the difficulties experienced at Boeing, there’s no longer a timeline for when certification will occur for this variant. As a result, Southwest is in the dark about when it’ll finally be able to enter this type into service.

Routes Cancelled

Southwest has also been forced to cancel several routes in response to the persistent fleet difficulties it’s experiencing.

Southwest will depart four airports across the United States as part of a broader plan to slow growth. The carrier says it’ll end service from the following airports effective August 4, 2024:

  • George Bush International Airport in Houston
  • Cozumel International Airport on Cozumel Island, Mexico
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport in Syracuse, New York
  • Bellingham International Airport in Bellingham, Washington

However, while the airline removes itself from these markets, further changes are expected to be implemented across locations. Flight reductions are expected across Chicago and Atlanta in response to the difficulties faced by Boeing.

Southwest joins a long list of other airlines that have recently been forced to cut routes for various reasons. In the case of Southwest, if they are forced to leave markets or reduce flights, they’ll look towards the least in-demand and profitable routes to cut first.

Ultimately, the route cancellations highlight the effect of Beoing’s persistent delivery delays on customers. Stretching from fleet retirement delays, slowed growth, route cancellations, etc.

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