About 14% of Southwest Airlines' employees opt for long-term leave, permanent separation

Posted at 11:04 AM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 14:04:30-04

Approximately 14 percent of Southwest Airlines employees have taken one of two leave options the company offered in an attempt to slash expenses.

Julie Weber, vice president and chief people officer of Southwest Airlines Co., shared the details with employees July 9 in a memo, a copy of which was viewed by the Dallas Business Journal.

Southwest has been offering employees leave since the pandemic started. Over a month ago, it outlined two new options: voluntary separation program and extended emergency time off. VSP is a permanent separation from the company, while ExTO is being offered in six-, 12- and 18-month installments for some employees.

Through July 8, 2,804 employees have opted for VSP and 5,588 have opted for ExTO, Weber said. Southwest has roughly 60,000 total employees. Employees have until July 15 to apply for the two programs, and Southwest has made clear this will be the only such offer to employees.

In May, Southwest became the largest carrier at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, edging out American Airlines in passenger numbers amid the air travel slump brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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