Southwest Airlines (LUV) announced that it is expanding its service in both Chicago and Houston.

The airline said it will now fly out of Chicago O’Hare International Airport, adding to its existing service at Midway International Airport – also in Chicago. Midway has been Southwest’s busiest airport since it first arrived at the terminal in 1985, the company said.

Southwest is also returning to Houston in celebration of 50 years of flying. The company will add flights to Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, expanding its service to the city, which also includes service from Houston’s William P. Hobby International Airport.

Intercontinental Airport was one of the first three airports that Southwest serviced back in 1971. The airline continued to offer service between both Houston Hobby and Intercontinental from 1980 to 2005.

Southwest is expected to begin service at both airports in the first half of 2021. The company said more details on schedules and fares will be available soon.

“Southwest owes decades of success to our employees and customers who have supported our business in Chicago and Houston,” Gary Kelly, CEO and chairman at Southwest, said in a statement. “Today’s announcement furthers our commitment to both cities as we add service to share Southwest’s value and hospitality with more leisure and business travelers.”

The announcement by Southwest comes as major airlines alter their flight schedules as the coronavirus caused a drop in airline passengers. Airlines have also announced mass layoffs as travel demand continues to decline.

Kelly said on Oct. 5 that the airline plans to avoid furloughs and layoffs through 2021.

Shares of Southwest were trading at $39.40 as of 2:22 p.m. EDT, down 33 cents of 0.82%.

Southwest Airlines A Southwest Airlines jet waits on the tarmac at Denver International Airport in Denver on Jan. 22, 2014. Photo: Reuters/Rick Wilking

In the months after Congress allocated of hundreds of millions of dollars to keep airline industry employees working, passenger airlines applied for shares of that money and then then laid off less than 1% of their workers, until the funding ran out.

Airline contractors similarly applied for money and then laid off about 58,000 people, about 35% of their workers, a new report says.

“Contrary to congressional intent, Treasury permitted aviation contractors to lay off thousands of workers and receive full payroll support calculated based on the companies’ pre-pandemic workforce,” according to a report, released Friday by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

The report, “Unnecessary Costs: How the Trump Administration Allowed Thousands of Aviation Workers to Lose Their Jobs,” was issued by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

It blasted both the slow pace of work by the Treasury Department and airport contractors’ allocation of the funds they received.

“This staff report documents how the Department of the Treasury’s implementation of the Payroll Support Program (PSP) caused thousands of workers at aviation contractors to lose their jobs,” said the introduction to the report.

“Documents uncovered during the Select Subcommittee’s investigation show that aviation contractors sought to avoid ‘unnecessary costs’ by terminating employees before executing PSP agreements,” the introduction continued.

In comparison with passenger airlines, “Aviation contractors reported conducting 57,833 layoffs and furloughs prior to applying for PSP assistance—more than 17 times the number reported by passenger air carriers,” the report said.

The Cares Act was approved by Congress on March 27. The report makes a distinction between the 57,833 layoffs and furloughs before PSP applications were filed under the act, and the16,655 layoffs between

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(RTTNews) – American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) will be forced to discontinue service to additional U.S. markets unless new coronavirus relief package is received, CEO Doug Parker told CNBC on Thursday.

The airline has already cut service to 13 cities through the month of November.

The airlines received aid under the federal Payroll Support Program or PSP under the CARES Act passed by Congress in March, that banned furloughs. They were hoping for an additional $25 billion in funding.

However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said that there won’t be a stand-alone airline aid package without a larger coronavirus stimulus package.

Early this month, with the expiration of US federal payroll program on September 30, American Airlines and United Airlines started to furlough their employees, that is expected to affect around 32,000 workers in total.

However, the companies in their memos to employees reportedly said they will be recalled if and when the Congress passes another financial lifeline to the airline industry.

American Airlines is set to furlough 19,000 employees, as announced in August. This includes around 1,600 pilots. Meanwhile, United Airlines plans to furlough more than 13,000 employees, but no pilots.

Parker said American and other major carriers are pushing back more flight cuts, holding out hope for extra government aid.

“There will absolutely be discontinuation of service to small communities, and there will be much less service to larger communities” without more coronavirus relief, he said.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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SEATTLE/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Boeing Co BA.N is in discussions to sell 737 MAX jets to Alaska Airlines once the plane returns to service following a lengthy grounding, three people familiar with the matter said.

The talks are part of a series of negotiations between Boeing and several airlines over jet orders or compensation after the 737 MAX was banned worldwide following two fatal crashes.

Boeing and Alaska Airlines, which is part of Alaska Air Group Inc ALK.N, declined to comment.

Any deal would be subject to U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval of proposed 737 MAX safety upgrades.

Boeing shares were up 1.6% at $167.22 on Thursday afternoon, while Alaska Air stock was up 4.1% at $38.54.

Alaska Airlines already had ordered 37 of the jets before the grounding. If confirmed, a new order from such a major carrier would give Boeing’s 737 MAX a sorely needed commercial boost as the U.S. planemaker tries to move beyond a crisis that has hammered its finances.

It would also mark a post-crisis test of the balance of power between Boeing and Airbus AIR.PA. The European planemaker is battling to keep a foothold in Alaska Airlines, which had operated an all-Boeing fleet until it acquired Virgin America in 2016.

However, any new deal between Alaska Airlines and Boeing is expected to include significant discounts given the MAX’s woes and plunging demand for airplanes during the coronavirus crisis, industry sources said.

It was not immediately clear how many jets it may buy.

The talks are among several discussions Boeing is having with airlines, hoping to stimulate demand for the jet when it returns to the air. Analysts caution cutting prices too far could rattle some existing customers.

After months of delays, and pending approval of design and