Speaking on “Face the Nation” on CBS, Gary Kelly said the airline had taken extreme measures to ensure passengers would be safe from the COVID-19 virus and that the company’s jets were “as safe as humanly possible.”
“We’re doing everything possible to encourage people to come back and fly,” Kelly told Margaret Brennan. “We’re cleaning airplanes, we’re requiring masks of our employees and our customers, we’re using very deep cleaning overnight, we’re using electrostatic misters which will kill the virus on surfaces for up to 30 days.”
“We’re exercising social distancing on board the aircraft,” Kelly said. “We won’t be booking airplanes full so that people can spread out. So, absolutely we’re doing everything we can to make it as safe as humanly possible.”
Kelly’s remarks come after other major airlines, including Delta, United, American, and JetBlue, announced that passengers would be required to wear protective masks on flights and that other safety measures against the coronavirus would be put in place.
The airline industry has been hard hit by the virus, which has reduced air travel to a bare minimum amid lockdowns and travel restrictions — and Southwest is no exception.
Kelly said nearly 400 of the airline’s fleet has been grounded during the lockdown.
“The demand is not there,” he told Brennan. “So, obviously if things don’t improve we have to downsize.”
“We’ve never had a furlough in our history, we’ve never had a pay cut in our history, and I’m extraordinarily proud of that. We certainly don’t want to break that record. What I had promised our people is I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that we are very well prepared.”
He said the last measure for the financially strapped air carrier would be involuntary furloughs for the airline’s more than 60,000 employees.