Southwest sees strong holiday travel demand

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Southwest Airlines, echoing comments by competitors, issued an upbeat forecast for holiday travel Thursday. 

The Dallas-based airline said in its latest earnings report it "continues to experience strong leisure and business revenue trends and strong bookings" throughout the last three months of the year, "including the holiday time periods."  

The company reported record operating revenue over the three months ending in September and expects its operating revenue at the end of the year to "accelerate" compared to the third quarter.  

The carrier's confidence is driven partly after seeing "strong" revenue trends in September, which were "bolstered by improving business travel trends post-Labor Day," CEO Bob Jordan told analysts. 

JETBLUE OPTIMISTIC ON HOLIDAY TRAVEL AFTER REACHING 'MILESTONE' IN RECOVERY

A Southwest Airlines plane approaches the runway at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Va., April 2, 2022.  (Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Southwest isn't the only carrier issuing an upbeat forecast despite soaring inflation, which some economists predicted would curb plans.

Earlier this week, JetBlue issued an optimistic outlook on travel throughout the holiday season after saying it reached a "milestone" in its recovery. 

"We’re confident in the demand backdrop for the year-end holiday peaks," JetBlue Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty said in the company's latest earnings report.   

A man talks on his cellphone while looking at a JetBlue Airways Airbus A320-200 plane at LaGuardia Airport in New York. (JetBlue/ REUTERS/Lucas Jackson / Reuters Photos)

JetBlue’s Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes reiterated this sentiment, saying the New York-based company continues to "see a growing appetite for JetBlue’s unique customer value proposition of low fares and great service." 

DELTA AIR LINES SEES STRONG HOLIDAY TRAVEL DESPITE INFLATION

Delta Air Lines, the world's largest airline by revenue, is also not allowing an uncertain economic environment to cloud its optimistic outlook on holiday travel. The carrier projected that revenue during the last three months of the year would top pre-pandemic levels.  

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
LUVSOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.35.29+0.92+2.68%
JBLUJETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP.7.62+0.16+2.14%
DALDELTA AIR LINES INC.34.10+0.20+0.59%

"It’s going to be a very strong holiday season" from Thanksgiving to New Year’s, even with high inflation, which accelerated in September, CEO Ed Bastian said during the airline's third-quarter analyst call. 

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Travelers move through the ticketing area of Delta Air Lines in Terminal 2 at O’Hare International Airport Jan. 12, 2016, in Chicago.  (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Bastian said advanced bookings — typically three or four months into the future — and comments from big corporate customers point to "very strong" travel demand through the fourth quarter and into early next year.

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