Southwest CEO sees no return of business travelers

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2009 12:11 PM

The CEO of Southwest Airlines says business travel is still slow and he doesn't expect it to improve next year either.

"I'm not expecting strong economic growth in 2010, and likewise I'm not expecting a rebound in business travel in 2010," says Gary Kelly.

Business travelers are a key source of revenue for airlines because they fly regularly and often pay higher, last-minute fares.

With corporations still pinching their travel pennies, Southwest is adjusting its plans.

Kelly says Southwest doesn't expect to increase its 541-plane fleet next year, and that passenger-carrying capacity will be flat.

At an investor conference in New York, Kelly predicts Southwest will be profitable in the fourth quarter after excluding one-time items.