Southwest Airlines Co. today reported its first quarter 2020 results:
- First quarter net loss of $94 million and $.18 net loss per diluted share
- Excluding special items, net loss of $77 million and $.15 net loss per diluted share
- First quarter operating revenues of $4.2 billion, down 17.8 percent year-over-year
- Capital returns of $639 million to Shareholders through share repurchases and dividends during first quarter; dividends and share repurchase programs suspended until further notice
- Return on invested capital (ROIC) pre-tax of 18.1 percent for the 12 months ended March 31, 2020, or 14.3 percent on an after-tax basis
- In April 2020, reached an agreement in principle with the U.S. Department of Treasury (the “U.S. Treasury”) for proceeds of approximately $3.3 billion under the Payroll Support Program (“PSP”) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act); consists of $2.3 billion in direct payroll support and $948 million in the form of an unsecured 10-year term loan; the Company is expected to issue warrants that enable the U.S. Treasury to purchase up to an aggregate of approximately 2.6 million shares of the Company’s common stock
- Since the beginning of 2020, bolstered cash on hand by $6.8 billion as of April 24, 2020, including $1.6 billion of PSP proceeds, or 50 percent; remaining $1.6 billion of PSP proceeds expected to be received by July 2020
Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, stated, “This is an unprecedented time for our Nation and the airline industry. In late February, we began experiencing a precipitous drop in passenger demand and bookings due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a first quarter 2020 net loss. The U.S. economy has been at a standstill, and the current outlook for second quarter 2020 indicates no material improvement in air travel trends. Trip cancellations remain at unprecedented levels, though they have receded from their peak in March. As such, we have significantly reduced our published flight schedules through July 2020.
“In addition, we have taken swift action to significantly reduce cash burn. We have reduced named executive officer salaries and Board of Director cash retainer fees by 20 percent; suspended all hiring and non-contract salary increases; implemented voluntary time-off programs; canceled or deferred hundreds of capital spending projects; modified vendor and supplier payment terms; and cut all non-essential spending. These combined efforts, along with capacity reductions, are expected to result in more than $2 billion in reduced annual 2020 operating costs as well as more than $1 billion in reduced annual 2020 capital spending, compared with original plans. We will continue evaluating the need for further flight schedule adjustments, while planning to maintain service to all points in our domestic network through at least September 30, 2020.
“We applaud the work of our federal leaders, President Trump, Secretaries Mnuchin and Chao, and the entire United States Congress for recognizing the unprecedented health and economic crisis that our Nation is currently facing due to the pandemic, as well as the importance of airlines to the U.S. economy. The PSP under the CARES Act allows us to protect the jobs of the more than 60,000 Southwest Employees through September 30, 2020.
“We came into this year with significant financial strength and a fortress balance sheet, ending 2019 with cash and short-term investments of $4.1 billion and adjusted debt to average invested capital (leverage) of only 24 percent. We have quickly accessed capital to bolster our liquidity as we manage through the effects of the pandemic. Since the beginning of 2020, we have raised approximately
$6.8 billion through $5.2 billion in debt financings and $1.6 billion in proceeds received from the PSP, thus far. As of April 24, 2020, we had cash and short-term investments of $9.3 billion, with leverage of 47 percent. We are currently the only U.S. airline with an investment-grade rating by all three rating agencies and remain focused on maintaining a strong balance sheet. Following recent debt transactions, we have unencumbered assets worth nearly $8 billion, including more than $6 billion in aircraft. We expect to receive the remainder of PSP proceeds, approximately $1.6 billion, over the next three months.
“I am extremely grateful to our People for their continued dedication to serve our Customers through an ever-changing environment. Since March 2019, our Employees have been doing a heroic job managing the challenges related to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX (MAX) aircraft. Based on The Boeing Company’s recent communication on the MAX return to service date, we currently expect the MAX to be removed through the end of our published flight schedule date of October 30, 2020. In light of the current environment, we are in the process of revising our aircraft order book with Boeing and will continue partnering with Boeing on a sensible delivery schedule.
“Our Employees are taking great care of each other and our Customers. We have implemented enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures, and we are continuing to explore options to further protect the health and safety of our Employees and Customers. Our People have risen to the occasion, once again, approaching current challenges with Teamwork, bravery, and resolve. And, our magnificent, dedicated, and fearless health care professionals also deserve our deepest appreciation; as do essential personnel from first responders to truck drivers, from grocery store workers to frontline communication workers. We are proud of them all, and we remain committed to serving their communities and providing much-needed air travel to transport personnel and supplies.
“We entered this crisis prepared with the U.S. airline industry’s strongest balance sheet and most successful business model. While the impact of the pandemic is unprecedented, we believe demand for air travel will rebound. And, we intend to emerge with ample liquidity and an unwavering focus on our enduring Purpose—to connect People to what is important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”