Southwest Airlines aims to ensure survival with employee buyout packages, temporary leaves

Reuters has reported Southwest Airlines has extended buyout packages and temporary paid leaves to employees in an effort to ensure survival as the carrier braces for a slow recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the news source said.

Southwest, which has not imposed any layoffs or furloughs in its 49-year history, said its flying capacity would probably be down about 30% in the fall.

Southwest is offering leaves of a minimum of six months with benefits and 50% pay for most employees, excluding pilots, who would receive about 61% pay. The maximum leave period varies, and the airline said it may return employees to work earlier if needed for operational needs.

Buyouts are being offered to employees depending on their time with the company. Employees with more than 10 years experience would receive a year´s pay, health benefits and four years of flight privileges. Pilots would receive about two-thirds of their average salary for five years, or until they reach age 65.

Southwest is among US airlines that have received billions of dollars in government payroll aid which bans any forced job cuts before October.