- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 3, 2020

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said Sunday it is safe to begin traveling by plane again as his airline has taken measures to protect passengers from the coronavirus.

Asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether it was safe to fly, Mr. Kelly answered, “It is.”

“I don’t think the risk on an airplane is any greater risk than anywhere else,” Mr. Kelly said. “And, in fact, you just look at the layered approach that we use, it’s as safe an environment as you’re going to find.”

Mr. Kelly told CBS that Southwest Airlines was utilizing social distancing policies and ensuring that planes were not fully booked so people could spread out. He said his company was doing, “everything we can to make [travel] as safe as humanly possible.”

“We’re doing everything possible to encourage people to come back and fly,” Mr. Kelly said. “We’re cleaning airplanes, we’re requiring masks of our employees and our customers. We’re using very deep cleanings every night, we’re using electrostatic misters which will kill the virus on surfaces for up to 30 days.”

Airplanes across all airlines taking off right now are averaging 17 passengers per flight, according to CBS, and Southwest Airlines reported more than $90 million losses in the first quarter.

Mr. Kelly told CBS his company has a strong balance sheet, a lot of cash, a good business model, and a low-cost structure that should bolster the company as Americans’ fear of coronavirus affects the economics of the airline industry.

“We’re going to have to fight our way through this and obviously I’m anxious to see how the travel demand develops here in the summer,” Mr. Kelly said.

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