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Southwest to cancel 1,500 daily flights starting Friday

A Lambert spokesman said by next week total flights at the airport will decrease by 3% from the start of the month
A Southwest airline plane is seen on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on September 19, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. / AFP / Daniel SLIM (Photo credit should read DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS — Southwest Airlines will cancel 1,500 daily flights starting Friday, an increase from what the Dallas-based airline said several days prior as demand for air travel plummets even more.

Southwest (NYSE: LUV) flies about 4,000 flights a day normally, meaning the cancellations represent nearly 40 percent of the airline's daily service. The airline is the largest carrier serving St. Louis Lambert International Airport, accounting for 60% of the airport's enplaned passengers in 2019.

A Lambert spokesman on Tuesday said that by next week total flights at the airport will decrease by 3% from the start of the month, a figure that will climb to 14% by April 20.

"We'll implement the cancellations on a rolling, multiple-day basis to provide customers with advance notice of changes and alternate flight options," a Southwest spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

In addition to the cancellation increase, the carrier is also looking at adjusting its Hawaii service, according to an internal memo viewed by the Dallas Business Journal.

Alterations to Southwest's Hawaii schedule shows how quickly circumstances are changing for airlines as they grapple with the new industry realities COVID-19 has brought on. Southwest President Tom Nealon told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser earlier this month the carrier's Hawaii flights would be immune to schedule cuts.

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