Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines CEO, said Wednesday he was optimistic that despite a month-long dead end between lawmakers and the White House, Congress could pass a national coronavirus bailout package that includes aid from airlines.
Earlier this year, airlines received $ 25 billion in aid that bans job cuts and requires a minimum of service by September 30th.
With that date in a week, airline CEOs, including Kelly, have been meeting with government officials and lawmakers in Washington to seek last-minute additional help to the sector, which has seen demand less than a third year-on-year due to the pandemic has to fight. Like other airline executives, Kelly said the airline did not expect a strong recovery in air traffic anytime soon.
"We are very confident that they can reach and reach an agreement to help the economy and of course the travel industry," Kelly told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."
The proposal was supported by both parties on Capitol Hill and the White House, but lawmakers and the Trump administration have repeatedly failed to reach an agreement on a new national coronavirus package that would include that aid.
Even without extra help, Southwest is reluctant to reduce capacity further as it could cause more pain for the airline, Kelly said.
"If we cut our flights too much at any given time, we will reduce many travel routes and the loss of revenue will accelerate much faster than the cost reductions," he said. "We have to find the right balance."
He said the airline is sticking to capacity cuts of around 40% -45% year over year.