- The Washington Times - Monday, August 23, 2004

DALLAS (AP) — Southwest Airlines Inc. plans to cut 88 flights in October and shift planes to more profitable routes, mostly in and out of Philadelphia, officials said yesterday.

The low-cost carrier said it hopes the changes will increase revenue by $60 million.

“It’s just taking the planes and redeploying them. The capacity remains the same,” spokesman Ed Stewart said. “We should see increased revenue by putting planes in places where lots of people want to fly.”

Mr. Stewart said the Oct. 31 schedule changes will result in 41 daily flights at Philadelphia, where Southwest began service in May. The Dallas carrier said Philadelphia has been its most successful opening to date.

The changes will affect about 3 percent of Southwest’s schedule of 2,800 daily flights.

Southwest said it would reduce some round-trip flights between Kansas City, Kan., and Chicago; Dallas and Tulsa, Okla.; Houston and New Orleans, as well as on many less-frequent routes.

For example, the company will cut daily departures at Dallas from 130 to 123 and reduce Kansas City daily flights from 70 to 61. Among less-traveled routes, Southwest plans to trim flights between Albuquerque, N.M., and El Paso, Texas, from four to three each day.

Besides Philadelphia, other routes gaining flights include Houston-Orlando, Fla.; Chicago-Tampa, Fla.; and Baltimore-Nashville, Tenn.

Southwest has been hurt by rising costs for jet fuel and labor, and saw second-quarter profits slide by 54 percent.

The airline has partly insulated itself against fuel increases by buying about 80 percent of its supply under long-term deals with guaranteed lower prices, but it still paid 21.5 percent more for fuel in the April-June 2004 period than it did a year ago.

On the labor side, the company reached a deal last month that gave flight attendants average pay raises of 31 percent over six years.

Gary Kelly, who replaced James Parker as chief executive officer last month, said in a recent interview that Southwest was “pushing the boundary of what we can afford with our wages.”

Southwest has said that earnings in the July-September quarter will beat last year’s profit of $106 million. Mr. Kelly said bookings for July and August were strong.

Shares of Southwest fell 10 cents to close at $14.60 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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