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Southwest Airlines Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly’s Update to Employees Regarding COVID Relief Package


I’m sure many of you have already heard the exciting news that the COVID-19 economic relief package—which includes an extension of the Payroll Support Program, or PSP—has been signed into law. As I’ve been saying for months, this was always our preferred plan, and it means we can stop the movement toward furloughs and pay cuts that we previously announced. For that, I am most grateful.


The new law will provide payroll support for all Southwest Employees through March 31, 2021.Given this, we currently do not anticipate the need to conduct any furloughs or pay cuts next year.


I’m incredibly thankful for the thousands of Employees (and their loved ones) who used their Warrior Spirit to advocate for the PSP extension with their elected representatives in Congress, presenting impassioned pleas in an effort to save thousands of jobs—not just at Southwest—but across our industry. 


I am tremendously grateful for the recognition by federal leaders that the airlines are an indispensable part of the U.S. economy and that the PSP has been a successful program deserving of an extension. I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude to several key leaders by name, although this is certainly not an exhaustive list. 


First and foremost, everyone who works in the airline industry, including at Southwest, needs to say a special thanks for the efforts of Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Since early March and throughout this challenging time, those two leaders, and their staffs, have been effective advocates in making sure the U.S. airline industry and its people did not permanently downsize due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Without those two men, there is no PSP.


Next, neither the CARES Act nor the latest emergency economic relief legislation, nor the provisions addressing airlines, would have been possible without Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, all of whom understood how critically important the airlines are to the economy and the future economic recovery. Support for the airlines was one item they all agreed to, and relatively early in their long and laborious negotiations. Secretary Mnuchin especially has been generous with his time and attention throughout this crisis, and his leadership deserves greater recognition within and beyond the airline industry. 


Finally, I need to call out one additional congressional leader who was instrumental in getting this final agreement done: Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). When partisan tensions were the highest and paralysis gripped Washington, Senator Collins and a small group of fellow, bipartisan moderates decided to solve the gridlock and present a pathway forward. I specifically call out Senator Collins because I know she made sure the transportation sector, including the airlines and our people, were a central part of the bipartisan emergency relief plan, and then, ultimately, the final economic relief package. 


Again, I need to stress that dozens of government leaders are worthy of praise; however, these individuals deserve individual recognition.


With this communication, we are halting all efforts to furlough or reduce Employees’ pay, and officially rescinding the WARN notices, furlough notices, notices of potential impact, and notices of pay reduction for Noncontract Employees that were previously sent. 


I’m also extremely grateful that so many of you expressed your willingness to sacrifice to help preserve jobs. This pandemic and its impact on the world, our country, and our industry have required Southwest to move toward actions that we’ve never even considered before in order to save our Company. And, thankfully, as a result of this crucial aid, we can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we will not be forced to follow through with those steps that are so foreign to all of us. 


Please note that we are still overstaffed in many areas, so if voluntary time off programs are available in your workgroup, please consider participating whenever they are offered. 


I know the battle isn’t over, but we’re resilient, and we’re well prepared to fight so that Southwest emerges stronger than ever, ready to thrive for the next 50 years. And each of you will have played an important part in Southwest’s finest hour. 


All together. One Team. All Heart!


Stay Strong.  — Gary Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Southwest Airlines 


Gary Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, Southwest Airlines.jpg



1 Comment
Explorer C

May 3, 2021,



I believe almost none of your previous Alist and Companion pass customers will be able to earn Alist or companion pass this year.


This is because only now in late April and May are your business travellers like me starting to travel again-- Most of us did not travel at all from March 2020 thru at least April 2021. Being fully vaccinated is the only reason I can travel now and most of us got fully vaccinated no earlier than mid March to mid April. Many people are not yet vaccinated.


I have been Alist for years (and earned a companion pass for years).
I know you have extended my Alist status thru June 2021 and the Companion pass for the rest of this year.


I am requesting that you extend these items again for the reasons above.