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Wow: Southwest Airlines Flew 56 Ghost Flights Last Week

Last week American carrier Southwest Airlines logged 56 flights that took off without any passengers. According to the Dallas Business Journal, the information was revealed in an internal memo sent to employees. The aviation industry has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the US domestic air market has technically still been able to operate, non-essential travel is at an absolute minimum. ( More...

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Mami Iwamoto 5
I was hoping the flights were conducted to transport medical supplies and personnel
Bryan Lockey 5
In the UK, you have to keep flying into airports, otherwise you lose the rights to land at regular scheduled times.
Some of these fights could be ferry flights to drop off the aircraft at a maintenance facility for an A, B, C, or a D check. Southwest flies to the airport that I work at just to bring the aircraft for maintenance. And I work at MIA airport where Southwest doesn't have scheduled flights to.
James Werner 4
Why is this news? Southwest normally flies over 4,000 flights daily. Even with as much as half their schedule curtailed (i.e., 2,000 flights) 56 flights is less than 3% of their schedule. Although that would seem high normally, it doesn't seem unreasonable, or even remarkable considering the logistics of such massive recent impacts
julieort 2
I have heard that the weather forecasts are not as accurate because of the lack of reports from the planes in the air. Would appreciate a professional verification. Thanks in advance for your time
Byron Russell 2
Some flights may have been hauling freight in their baggage holds.
Jim Ward 2
Jim here in Dallas. Their moving medical support.
they are attempting to maintain some sort of schedule,and not completely cancel everything..also,the governmental "loans" they will be getting require them to maintain a payroll for a while..i believe all of the major carriers are doing the same..
sparkie624 2
Not really surprising... I imagine other airlines are in a similar boat
bpforest 2
Watched the RSW traffic last week, if there was something leaving the airport, headed north, it was predominantly Southwest.
sparkie624 2
Yeah... On my ADSB here in KSTL area... Most of the Airline Flights are SWA, A few United a/c, usually GoJet because this is their main maintenance base and only hangar!
Maybe they are still sorting out the luggage? (Sorry, couldn't resist)
patrickmalone 1
Not like it used to be where some airlines had break-even load factors as low as 40%. I would be surprised if three US carriers emerge. They will all be challenged.
AWAAlum 1
With the current rate of unemployment, I strongly hope you're wrong.
KoolerKT 1
Does it matter now where it originated?
AWAAlum 2
I would think so. I believe not just the business owners, but the insurers would be very interested.
AWAAlum 1
uh oh - wrong thread. mea culpa
patrick baker 1
consolidations seem to be on the horizon. What a tasty mixture would Southwest and JetBlue make-decent customer service and the possiblity of european expansion, with that route system feeding eastward flights. European flights may be signifacant several years from now, but when i look at an overlay map of JetBlue/Southwest, i like it.
paul trubits 1
SWA and JetBlue use different aircraft. SWA might pick up their slots if they go bankrupt, but a merger seems unlikely.
aurodoc 1
I have seen a couple of mentions regarding freight. Can many of these airlines make money on hauling freight and mail or is there too much competition to make this a reasonable source of income when not flying people?
Dave Hahn 2
I would think that a passenger plane with a hold full of cargo couldn’t economically complete against a plane totally configured for cargo. Just guessing of course.
Fred Bailey 1
Getting more $ for freight these days
Dave Hahn 1
Sure shows up in the grocery store.
cowboybob 1
currency of flight crews plays into this as well. I know an experimental flight test program that is using their flight simulator everyday in an attempt to keep everyone current so they can hit the ground running once all this nonsense stops. You can sit on your hands waiting for Big Daddy to say it's okay to go back outside and play...or you can figure out how to work around the stupid directives.
John White 1
US mail, cargo? And AA has flights going in-n-out of DFW at peak hours. the Airbridge is a great SCM tool. Too much bashing our fellow citizens isn't good. The get-back-to-work spirit is in all of us. if you look for the bad, you can find it. I'm looking for the good in us and hoping to resume flight training. IMHO, we should focus on Beijing and hold them accountable Best to everyone!
Rod Manser 1
Amen to all the above
AWAAlum -1
Having read an article recently, it stated the COVID-19 virus in the U.S. did not originate in Asia, but rather, in Europe. I'm uncertain of its validity, but it claimed absolute certainty.
Mark Jenkins 10
What I have read is that genetic analysis of the COVID-19 virus in most US west coast outbreaks traces directly back to virus in Wuhan. Genetic analysis of most of the the COVID-19 virus in New York outbreak traces back to Europe first, and then to China. Some COVID-19 virus in New York traces more directly back to Wuhan. I have not read any analysis that claims origination of COVID-19 virus was in Europe, just that is where the most recent mutation of the virus occurred prior to most exemplars found in New York outbreak.

In other words, west coast US got virus directly from Wuhan connections. New York got virus from European sources who got it from Wuhan. An aspect of our well-connected global culture.
Robert Cowling -3
Isn't that called 'repositioning'? But in this time, it's called 'finding parking space'.

It's not a bad thing that they are facing problems. I feel sorry for the employees on the line, the attendants, ground staff, terminal staff, and pilots. Poop floats, and the top of the cesspool will get all the money, and the costs of them not internalizing the money will be born by those under the floating poop.

And before anyone objects, you have to realize I majored in government, and trump had a thing called a 'signing statement' where he said that he was not going to abide by ANY of the restrictions on where the money was supposed to go, or what the recipients could do with the money, and just yesterday dismissed the inspector general that would have been overseeing the spending of the 2 TRILLION DOLLARS!!!

It's a reelection slush fund, and no one is going to be able to stop him from abusing this to the maximum.
Dave Hahn 1
You didn’t disappoint . Immediately to the politics of “ I hate Trump”. No comment on the billions Dems are giving illegals and their pet projects that are in no way of helping citizens.
See, I ran a computer company for 40+ years. I went to a conference on 'government bidding' and was talked into getting in to the process. My company was declared a 'small business', and we were encouraged to start bidding on RFP's and RFQ's.

So I started bidding, and then saw the competition. There were several 'small businesses' that were 'holding companies' of multi-trillion dollar huge corporations!

One bid I did, I bid our cost, and lost to a 'small business' that owned HP Computer Company. They claimed they were a 'small business', but it was just a front. It was an office in DC that was literally a mail box in an office building full of mail boxes. Someone came in a couple of times a week, and emptied the mail box into a duffle bag sized bag, and shipped it all to their corporate office. I was pissed! I called my congresspeople, and got a lot of BS, and shrugged shoulders. They ALL got money (lobbying money) from the 'small business'. It was a total fraud, and everyone knew about it, but everyone (except me) profited from it, so they were fine with it. I dropped out... What a waste of time.

So, beware of the 'small business' qualification when dealing with politicians. I'm sure the 'biggies' are lied up, cashing in on the handouts from the most corrupt administration ever. Of course he doesn't want any oversight. He's going to buy contributions to his reelection campaign with tax payer money! What a racket... It ought to be illegal, but Congress and the White House are immune to RICO act charges. They wrote the laws!!!
VKSheridan 5
Just for clarification:

1) After losing a bid, you loitered at the office of the company that won the bid so that you could observe how often their mailboxes were checked?
2) After “someone” dumped mail into duffel size bags, you followed the shipment all the way to their corporate offices?
3) You bid at cost, lost and are upset because the item from the winning bid cost taxpayers less?
4) You imply you’re older than 10 but go to forums and post stories to convince the world lobbyists exist?
5) You imply if a business is given taxpayer money, they’ll give back millions and that will somehow create a Jedi mind trick to manipulate the “unawakened” voter to vote to their favor?

Please, do tell.....
Kikutwo -2
Please seek counseling, it might help you.
richoff 1
Or maybe you should have another swig of the Koolaid
Rod Manser 1
you're projecting. Trump doesn't play that. He never said that or did that. I do specifically recall Obama doing exactly that to the Republican congress however. So don't keep trying to pin all this on Trump. And you better be avail front and center when we discover [finish getting proof] that the Dems worked with China on this crap.
You are the one who chose to go political on this. Truth will suck for you.
James Simms 0
He may not be able to handle the truth
Jean Johnson -1
Now they are flying empty planes which costs less, and they are keeping our money in the form of credits and vouchers. They know a certain percentage of those will never be used in the timeline given. Free income to them.
This is similar to gift cards which some companies sell at 10% off around the holidays. They know that a certain percentage will never be used, so they are still making money.
Dave Hahn 2
Remember when gift cards went down in value the longer they weren’t used. For the most part that stopped
Also, places that don't have the ability to validate a credit card (and yes, there are some that exist) will still accept all credit cards on the premise that less than 1% are invalid and they won't get paid, the cost of the sale against the lost revenue is simply overhead to doing business.

This is common in point of purchase transactions such as high volume venues (such as stadiums and arenas), where the time lag to process a verified sale is too long to meet the crush of purchasers in line. Again, the markup on things sold at these venues is so high that they could easily reach a 5% or more rejection rate and still be profitable.
Bob Gedemer -9
That is just a waste so they can claim they lost more money. I say they should cancel the dam flights so the taxpayers don't have to pay for them!
paul trubits 4
SWA cancelled over 2000 flights(50%) yesterday.
Robert Jarwin -2
I agree 1000%
VKSheridan 18
The author “selectively” omitted the suggestion that perhaps some if not all of those flights were connecting so the originating flight has to leave the airport it arrived at previously to pick up connections (and drop off freight) on its next scheduled route.

Slots are what pays the bills at the airport and to prevent a single carrier from buying them all up but using only a few to block out competition, they are sold with a contractual obligation to be occupied per the contract terms else lose them. If the airport waives the usage obligation, it opens the door to a “right to use” lawsuit by a competitive airline willing to fly empty planes for the value of that slot.

It doesn’t matter. If we want to fly when al this is over, we the taxpayers either fund the airlines or we fund the airports and all the supporting costs associated.

To put this in perspective, consider the number of taxpayer funded busses/trolleys/trains that drive empty at times along their routes as part of their normal everyday existence.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Bob Myers 11
Idiotic comment, therefore downvoted. Please re-adjust the fit of your tinfoil hat.
Silent Bob 2
Did you eat a lot of paint chips when you were a kid?


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