Southwest Air Offers Staff Another Round of Voluntary Leaves

Southwest Airlines offered employees another round of voluntary leaves as staffing levels outpace demand during the coronavirus pandemic.
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Southwest Airlines  (LUV) - Get Report shares were lower after the company said it would offer employees another round of voluntary leaves as staffing levels outpace demand during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Employees accepting Southwest's offer will begin taking voluntary time off on March 1, when thousands of workers who last year were placed on a six-month leave return to work.

The Dallas airline says that 791 pilots have already agreed to take one to three months off as part of the new offer. 

About 17,000 workers left the company last year, either permanently or temporarily, through voluntary buyouts or leave initiatives. 

Flight attendants have not been offered additional leave options, with the company saying that more than 4,600, or 30% of the total, took between six and 18 months away from the job during the last round of voluntary leaves. 

But other work groups will be part of the new time-off programs set to being in March. 

In December, Southwest Air warned that it could furlough nearly 7,000 employees as the company and its union disagreed about cost-cutting measures. 

So-called Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications notices were issued to 6,828 Southwest employees, including 1,221 pilots and 1,500 flight attendants, the airline said in a statement, "based upon a lack of meaningful progress in negotiations."

Southwest is scheduled to report its quarterly earnings results on Thursday. Wall Street analysts surveyed by FactSet expect the company to report a net loss of $1.68 a share on revenue of $2.11 billion.

Shares of Southwest Air at last check were down 2.6% to $44.61.