DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Saying that the coronavirus has caused a severe recession in the airline industry, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly announced that he will take a 10% pay cut as fears about the virus spread and airline bookings continue to decline.
Officials with Southeast say Kelly sent an internal memo to employees on March 9 that “focused on the financial crisis the coronavirus has imposed” on the company and the entire airline industry.
Earlier this month Southwest cut its revenue expectations for the quarter — predicting a drop between $200 and $300 million.
In 2018 Kelly’s base salary was $750,000, but his total compensation neared $8 million. In addition to his pay cut, the memo is said to have outlined some of the other actions the airline is considering moving forward.
While Kelly stressed that Southwest is prepared and has a strong financial position, he cautioned that the drop in bookings and sales was alarming. “The velocity and the severity of the decline is breathtaking,” he said
Kelly’s comments Tuesday come as several airlines also warned of significant impacts to operations from the COVID-19 outbreak. Fort Worth-based American Airlines said they planned to reduce the number of flights across their network.