Southwest Airlines warns it may need job cuts without jump in travel

FILE PHOTO: A number of grounded Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are shown parked at Victorville Airport in Victorville, California, U.S., March 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly told employees on Monday it needs a dramatic jump in passenger demand or it will be forced to take new steps to reduce staffing.

Employees face a Wednesday deadline whether to participate in a voluntary incentive program to leave the airline. “Although furloughs and layoffs remain our very last resort, we can’t rule them out as a possibility obviously in this very bad environment,” Kelly said in a message to employees. “We need a significant recovery by the end of this year — and that’s roughly triple the number of passengers from where we are today.”

(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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