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Southwest CEO: Five to 10 Years Before Business Travel Recovers

A coronavirus vaccine will hopefully come in 2021, which is critical, as though the only way to fix the economy is to overcome the virus. But the healing will be anything but immediate, at least for airlines, says the chair and CEO of Southwest ..

The airline understands the public’s concerns with the dangers from the close confines of air travel. Southwest is keeping middle seats open, enforcing safety measures like mask-wearing, and is stepping up its refund policy, and has pushed for thermal testing by the TSA. (Other airlines are taking similar measures.)

But even that may not get it done.

“At a point, you just can’t make people fly,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO, told Yahoo Finance. “You can’t send out a memo and say, ‘thou shalt travel from A to B’,” he said. “In economic recessions, it’s classic that business travel will be cut very sharply.”

Click here to see the full story from Ethan Wolff-Mann at Yahoo Finance.

While consumers will still travel, Kelly added, it’ll be at reduced fares.

“I think business travel will be very slow to recover, and my guess is that it will take five to 10 years for business travel to fully recover to 2019 levels,” he said. “So it’s a low-cost environment for a long time.”

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