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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

(Mark One)
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
     For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
 or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 For the transition period from ________ to ________
Commission File No. 1-7259
 luv-20201231_g1.jpg
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Texas74-1563240
(State or other jurisdiction of(IRS Employer
incorporation or organization)Identification No.)
P.O. Box 36611 
Dallas,Texas75235-1611
(Address of principal executive offices)(Zip Code)
Registrant's telephone number, including area code:  (214) 792-4000
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading SymbolName of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock ($1.00 par value)LUVNew York Stock Exchange
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes  x    No  o
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.   Yes o   No  x
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes   x   No  o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  x    No  o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
x
Non-accelerated filerSmaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management's assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. 
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).    Yes     No  x
The aggregate market value of the common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was approximately $20,094,518,012 computed by reference to the closing sale price of the common stock on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2020, the last trading day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter.
Number of shares of common stock outstanding as of the close of business on February 4, 2021: 590,677,474 shares
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Definitive Proxy Statement for the Company’s Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held May 19, 2021, are incorporated into Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.



TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I
Item 1.
Item 1A.
Item 1B.
Item 2.
Item 3.
Item 4.
PART II
Item 5.
Item 6.
Item 7.
Item 7A.
Item 8.
Item 9.
Item 9A.
Item 9B.
PART III
Item 10.
Item 11.
Item 12.
Item 13.
Item 14.
PART IV
Item 15.
Item 16.
2


-PART I-
Item 1.    Business
Company Overview

Southwest Airlines Co. (the "Company" or "Southwest") operates Southwest Airlines, a major passenger airline that provides scheduled air transportation in the United States and near-international markets. Southwest commenced service on June 18, 1971, with three Boeing 737 aircraft serving three Texas cities: Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. At December 31, 2020, Southwest had a total of 718 Boeing 737 aircraft in its fleet and 107 destinations in 40 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and ten near-international countries: Mexico, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Aruba, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Belize, Cuba, the Cayman Islands, and Turks and Caicos.

During 2020, the Company began service to six new destinations including Hilo on Hawaii; Cozumel, Mexico; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Palm Springs, California; and Montrose (Telluride and Crested Butte), Colorado. In addition, the Company has published its initial flight schedules to begin serving Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, beginning February 14, 2021, Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, beginning March 11, 2021, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Santa Barbara Airport, beginning April 12, 2021, Fresno Yosemite International Airport, beginning April 25, 2021, and Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport in Mississippi, beginning June 6, 2021.

Worldwide Pandemic

As a result of the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, throughout the world, including into the United States, on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization classified the virus as a pandemic. The speed with which the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the U.S. economic landscape, outlook, and in particular the travel industry, has been swift and unexpected. The Company began to see a negative impact on bookings for future travel in late February 2020, which quickly accelerated during the remainder of first quarter and into second quarter, when trip cancellations outpaced new passenger bookings during the majority of March and April 2020. The Company began proactively canceling a significant portion of its scheduled flights in March 2020, and continued adjusting capacity throughout the remainder of the year, as the Company grounded a significant portion of its fleet and operated a significantly reduced portion of its previously scheduled capacity. The Company continued to experience significant negative impacts to passenger demand and bookings through the remainder of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Based on these events and the uncertainty they created, the Company immediately began to focus on its liquidity, including quickly and substantially enhancing its cash holdings. In April 2020, the Company entered into definitive documentation with the United States Department of Treasury (the "Treasury") with respect to funding support pursuant to the Payroll Support Program under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act"). Payroll support funds under the CARES Act were required to be used solely to pay qualifying Employee salaries, wages, and benefits through at least September 30, 2020. On January 15, 2021, as a result of continued financial hardships to the Company caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company entered into definitive documentation with the Treasury for further payroll support under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the "Payroll Support Program Extension"). Payroll support funds under the Payroll Support Program Extension must be used to pay qualifying Employee salaries, wages, and benefits through at least March 31, 2021.

In addition to obtaining financing under the CARES Act and the Payroll Support Program Extension, the Company obtained significant financing in the capital markets and elsewhere. The Company believes it has made significant progress on bolstering its liquidity through efforts including aggressively evaluating all capital spending, discretionary spending, and non-essential costs for near-term cost reductions or deferrals; reducing the Company's published flight schedule; placing a significant number of aircraft in storage; implementing voluntary separation and time-off programs for Employees; substantially suspending all hiring; reducing the Chief Executive Officer's salary
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by 20 percent; reducing the other named executive officer salaries and Board of Director cash retainer fees by 20 percent through December 31, 2020; and where possible, modifying vendor and supplier payment terms. For further information on risks related to COVID-19, as well as the significant impacts of COVID-19 on the Company's operations, financial performance, and liquidity, see "Risk Factors," "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and Notes 2, 7, 8, and 9 to the Consolidated Financial Statements. The Company also took significant measures in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support the well-being of both its Customers and Employees including, for example:

implementing enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures;
requiring mask or face coverings for Employees and Customers (age two or over);
implementing measures to support physical distancing, including messaging to Customers and Employees, and modified boarding procedures;
limiting the number of seats available for sale on each flight through November 30, 2020, to allow for the middle seat to remain open;
adding Plexiglas® at ticketing and gate counters and baggage services offices;
implementing Customer and Employee health declarations;
offering the ability to work remotely to most of the Company's office and clerical Employees, including the vast majority of its Employees at the Company's headquarters campus; and
working with physician-scientists with knowledge and expertise in infectious disease, disease prevention, and testing protocols, and in particular the latest medical research about COVID-19, to review the Company's multi-layered approach to supporting the well-being of Customers and Employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boeing 737 MAX Grounding

In March 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (the "FAA") issued an emergency order for all U.S. airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft ("MAX"), including the 34 MAX 8 aircraft in the Company’s fleet at that time (the "MAX groundings"). As discussed below under "Company Operations" and "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," the MAX 8 aircraft are the Company's most fuel-efficient aircraft and the MAX groundings have adversely affected the Company's operations and financial results.

On November 18, 2020, the FAA rescinded its March 2019 grounding order, issued an airworthiness directive, and published training requirements, enabling the Company to begin modifying certain operating procedures, implementing enhanced pilot training requirements, installing FAA-approved flight control software updates, and completing other required maintenance tasks specific to the MAX aircraft. Before the Company returns the MAX aircraft to Customer service, every active Southwest Pilot is expected to:

complete additional FAA-required flight training in one of the Company's nine 737 MAX simulators;
complete additional FAA-required computer-based training covering MAX procedures; and
re-take the Company's original 737 MAX 8 computer-based differences training as a refresher to complement the FAA-required training.

Additionally, the Company is continuing work on its 34 MAX aircraft delivered prior to the FAA’s rescission of its grounding order to prepare each aircraft for the return to Customer service, including removing the aircraft from storage, installing the new flight control software updates, and performing required maintenance checks. The Company will also conduct multiple readiness flights on each of its MAX aircraft before each such aircraft is operated in Customer service. The Company has scheduled the MAX return to revenue service on March 11, 2021.

Industry

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As discussed above under "Business – Worldwide Pandemic," the travel industry was adversely impacted in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the Company, other U.S. airlines experienced significant year-over-year negative impacts to passenger demand and bookings, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on some of these airlines was particularly severe because of the significant reduction in business demand resulting from companies tightening or even suspending corporate travel. This not only reduced overall demand for air travel, but also resulted in a decrease in the percentage of full-fare purchases. Like the Company, these other airlines responded by quickly and significantly reducing scheduled flights and capacity, reducing operating costs and capital expenditures, accelerating fleet retirements, substantially increasing cash holdings and/or reducing or suspending service in certain markets. Unlike the Company, certain other airlines also furloughed employees and/or ceased service in certain markets.

In addition to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, air carriers with the MAX aircraft in their fleets were prohibited from operating the MAX aircraft until completing the FAA's airworthiness directive and training requirements published on November 18, 2020.

The airline industry has historically been an extremely volatile industry subject to numerous other challenges. Among other things, it has been cyclical, energy intensive, labor intensive, capital intensive, technology intensive, highly regulated, heavily taxed, and extremely competitive. The airline industry has also been particularly susceptible to detrimental events such as economic recessions, jet fuel price volatility, unscheduled maintenance disruptions, U.S. government shutdowns, acts of terrorism, poor weather, and natural disasters.
Historically, airline industry results have been particularly susceptible to fuel price volatility; however, the industry experienced a relatively stable and moderate fuel environment in 2020, as compared with recent years, with year-over-year fuel prices lower throughout most of 2020.

Company Operations

Route Structure

Southwest has historically principally provided point-to-point service, rather than the "hub-and-spoke" service provided by most major U.S. airlines. The hub-and-spoke system concentrates most of an airline's operations at a limited number of central hub cities and serves most other destinations in the system by providing one-stop or connecting service through a hub. By not concentrating operations through one or more central transfer points, Southwest's point-to-point route structure has allowed for more direct nonstop routing than hub-and-spoke service. However, in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company placed greater reliance in 2020 on connecting traffic in an effort to capture Customer demand. Approximately 72 percent of the Company's Customers flew nonstop during 2020, compared with 77 percent during 2019, and, as of December 31, 2020, Southwest served 667 nonstop city pairs, compared with 720 as of December 31, 2019. For 2020, the Company’s average aircraft trip stage length was 743 miles, with an average duration of approximately 2.0 hours, as compared with an average aircraft trip stage length of 748 miles and an average duration of approximately 2.0 hours in 2019.

Southwest’s point-to-point service has also enabled it to provide its markets with frequent, conveniently timed flights and low fares. For example, Southwest currently offers 8 weekday roundtrips between Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby, five weekday roundtrips between Denver and Chicago Midway, four weekday roundtrips between Los Angeles International and Las Vegas, and eight weekday roundtrips between Phoenix and Denver. Southwest complements its high-frequency short-haul routes with long-haul nonstop service including flights between California and Hawaii and between markets such as Los Angeles and Nashville, Los Angeles and Baltimore, and San Diego and Baltimore.

The Company continually works to optimize its route network and schedule through the adjustment of frequencies in its existing markets and the addition of new markets and itineraries, while also pruning less profitable flights from its schedule. The Company's network and schedule optimization efforts have been particularly beneficial in addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the MAX groundings. For example, these efforts have
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enabled the Company to continue to expand in key existing markets, such as California, as well as opportunistically introduce service in other markets.

Despite the pandemic, the Company has been able to continue to bolster its presence in California through the addition of new destination options and flights for California Customers. In 2020, the Company significantly expanded its presence at Long Beach Airport by acquiring 17 slots previously held by JetBlue Airways (a "slot" is the right of an air carrier, pursuant to regulations of the FAA or local authorities, to operate a takeoff or landing at certain airports). Further, the Company expanded its California to Hawaii network in 2020 by adding inaugural service between San Diego and Honolulu on the Island of Oahu. The Company has also announced new service from Long Beach to Honolulu and from Long Beach to Kahului on the Island of Maui, each beginning March 11, 2021. The Company also expects to expand its service at John Wayne Airport (Orange County) in 2021, including reinstated international service beginning March 11, 2021, through county authorization to increase capacity to and from the airport. In addition, the Company is currently scheduled to offer over 600 departures from California on peak flying days in the summer of 2021. Based on the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Transportation (the "DOT"), for the year ended September 30, 2020, Southwest carried more California travelers to, from, and within California than any other airline.

The Company's network and schedule optimization efforts have also enabled it to use otherwise idle aircraft and Employees to provide service to other core markets, as well as new destinations. The additional service has created additional regional and international connectivity that has been structured to improve recoverability during irregular operations, grow the Company's presence in strategic markets that serve as cornerstones for its network, and provide additional options for Customers to reach their final destinations. The Company expects to complement and strengthen its existing route network in or near cities where its Customer base is large, along with adding easier access to popular leisure-oriented destinations. These new destinations include four destinations added in fourth quarter 2020: Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Miami, Florida; Palm Springs, California; and Montrose (Telluride and Crested Butte), Colorado. The Company has further announced first quarter 2021 new service to Chicago O'Hare International Airport; Sarasota Bradenton International Airport; Colorado Springs Municipal Airport; and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport; and has announced second quarter 2021 new service to Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Santa Barbara Airport, Fresno Yosemite International Airport, and Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport in Mississippi.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a particularly negative impact on international operations and led to the Company's suspension of international operations in first quarter 2020. The Company was able to resume service to Mexico and the Caribbean via Cancun, San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos, Montego Bay, and Nassau on July 1, 2020; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on October 8, 2020; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic and Aruba on November 4, 2020; and Havana, Cuba on December 6, 2020. In response to local restrictions imposed by the Bahamian government, the Company temporarily suspended operations to Nassau effective July 22, 2020. The Company is scheduled to resume service to Cozumel, Mexico in first quarter 2021. Service to the Company's other international destinations is expected to resume pending the easing of government restrictions. The Company ended 2020 with 14 international destinations.

Cost Structure

A key component of the Company's business strategy is its focus on cost discipline and charging competitively low fares. Adjusted for stage length, the Company has lower unit costs, on average, than the majority of the largest domestic carriers; however, as discussed below under "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," the Company experienced significant unit cost pressure in 2019 following the MAX groundings, and in 2020 following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Company's low-cost strategy includes, among other elements, (i) the use of a single aircraft type, the Boeing 737, (ii) the Company's operationally efficient point-to-point route structure, and (iii) its highly productive Employees. Southwest's use of a single aircraft type allows for simplified scheduling, maintenance, flight operations, safety management, and training activities. Southwest's point-to-point route structure includes service to
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and from many secondary or downtown airports such as Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby, Chicago Midway, Baltimore-Washington International, Burbank, Manchester, Oakland, San Jose, Providence, and Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood. These conveniently located airports are typically less congested than other airlines' hub airports, which has contributed to Southwest's ability to achieve high asset utilization because aircraft can be scheduled to minimize the amount of time they are on the ground. This, in turn, has reduced the number of aircraft and gate facilities that would otherwise be required and allows for high Employee productivity (lower headcount per aircraft).

The Company's focus on controlling costs also includes a continued commitment to pursuing, implementing, and enhancing initiatives to reduce fuel consumption and improve fuel efficiency. Although Fuel and oil expense for 2020 decreased compared with 2019, primarily due to capacity cuts in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in part due to lower market jet fuel prices, Fuel and oil expense nonetheless remained the Company's second largest operating cost for 2020. As evidenced by the table below, energy prices can fluctuate significantly in a relatively short amount of time. The table below shows the Company's average cost of jet fuel for each year beginning in 2009 and during each quarter of 2020.

YearCost
(Millions)
Average
Cost Per
Gallon
Percentage of    
Operating
Expenses
2009$3,193 $2.22 31.2 %
2010$3,755 $2.61 33.4 %
2011$5,751 $3.25 38.2 %
2012$6,156 $3.32 37.3 %
2013$5,823 $3.19 35.3 %
2014$5,355 $2.97 32.6 %
2015$3,740 $1.96 23.6 %
2016$3,801 $1.90 22.7 %
2017$4,076 $1.99 23.0 %
2018$4,616 $2.20 24.6 %
2019$4,347 $2.09 22.3 %
2020$1,849 $1.45 14.4 %
First Quarter 2020$870 $1.90 20.0 %
Second Quarter 2020$257 $1.23 12.0 %
Third Quarter 2020 $379 $1.18 11.8 %
Fourth Quarter 2020 $343 $1.18 10.8 %

The Company focuses on minimizing fuel consumption and improving fuel efficiency through fleet modernization and other fuel initiatives. For example, the Company previously retired all Boeing 737-300 aircraft from its fleet and introduced service with the MAX 8 aircraft, which is more fuel-efficient and releases fewer CO2 emissions per available seat mile than the Company's other aircraft; however, the MAX groundings resulted in the removal of these more fuel-efficient aircraft from the Company's schedule, which, in turn, drove a decline in the Company's overall fuel efficiency in 2019. Although the Company's MAX aircraft remained grounded throughout 2020, the Company improved its fuel efficiency in 2020, as compared with 2019, primarily by operating fewer of its oldest, least fuel-efficient Boeing 737-700 aircraft as a result of capacity cuts in response to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lower load factors, due to COVID-19, also contributed to fuel efficiency during 2020. The Company continues to undertake a number of other fuel conservation initiatives, which are discussed in detail under "Regulation - Environmental Regulation."

The table below sets forth the Company's available seat miles produced per fuel gallon consumed over the last five years:
   Year ended December 31,
  2020 2019201820172016
Available seat miles per fuel gallon consumed 81.3 75.7 76.375.274.4
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The Company also enters into fuel derivative contracts to manage its risk associated with significant increases in fuel prices. The Company's fuel hedging activities, as well as the risks associated with high and/or volatile fuel prices, are discussed in more detail below under "Risk Factors," "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and Note 11 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Salaries, wages, and benefits expense constituted approximately 52.9 percent of the Company's operating expenses during 2020 and was the Company's largest operating cost. The Company's ability to control labor costs is limited by the terms of its collective-bargaining agreements, and increased labor costs have negatively impacted the Company's low-cost competitive position. The Company's labor costs, and risks associated therewith, are discussed in more detail below under "Risk Factors," "Business - Employees," and "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations."

Fare Structure

General

Southwest offers a relatively simple fare structure that features competitive fares and product benefits, including unrestricted fares, as well as lower fares available on a restricted basis. Southwest fare products include three major categories: "Wanna Get Away®," "Anytime," and "Business Select®," to provide Customers options when choosing a fare. All fare products include the privilege of two free checked bags (weight and size limits apply). Southwest does not charge fees for changes to flight reservations although fare differences may apply.

"Wanna Get Away" fares are generally the lowest fares and are typically subject to advance purchase requirements. They are nonrefundable, but, subject to Southwest's No Show Policy, travel funds may be applied towards future travel on Southwest. Wanna Get Away fares earn six Rapid Rewards® points, under Southwest's Rapid Rewards loyalty program, for each dollar spent on the base fare. The Company's loyalty program is discussed below under "Rapid Rewards Loyalty Program."
"Anytime" fares are, subject to Southwest's No Show Policy, refundable if canceled, or travel funds may be applied towards future travel on Southwest. If this fare is purchased with nonrefundable travel funds, then the travel funds will be nonrefundable if travel is canceled. Anytime fares earn 10 Rapid Rewards points for each dollar spent on the base fare.
"Business Select" fares are, subject to Southwest's No Show Policy, refundable if canceled, or travel funds may be applied towards future travel on Southwest. If this fare is purchased with nonrefundable travel funds, then the funds will be nonrefundable if travel is canceled. Business Select fares also include additional perks such as priority boarding with a boarding position in the first 15 boarding positions within boarding group "A," 12 Rapid Rewards points per dollar spent on the base fare - the highest loyalty point multiplier of all Southwest fare products, and "Fly By®" priority security and/or ticket counter access in participating airports. Business Select fares also ordinarily include one complimentary premium beverage coupon for the day of travel (Customers must be of legal drinking age to drink alcoholic beverages); however, the Company has temporarily suspended premium drink service in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Southwest's No Show Policy applies if a Customer does not change or cancel a flight segment at least ten minutes prior to scheduled departure and the Customer does not travel on the scheduled flight. In such event, subject to certain exceptions, all segments associated with the reservation will be canceled, and (i) with respect to a "Wanna Get Away" fare, unused travel funds will be forfeited; and (ii) with respect to an "Anytime" or "Business Select" fare, unused travel funds will be held as travel credit for future travel by the Customer on Southwest.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to enhance and expand upon its already generous and flexible ticketing policies, the Company extended the expiration of the following Customer travel funds to September 7, 2022:

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Travel funds created because of a flight cancellation between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020; and
Travel funds that would have expired between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020.

Ancillary Services

The Company offers ancillary services such as Southwest's EarlyBird Check-In®, Upgraded Boarding, and transportation of pets and unaccompanied minors, in accordance with Southwest's respective policies.

EarlyBird Check-In provides Customers with automatic check-in and an assigned boarding position before general boarding positions become available, thereby improving Customers' seat selection options (priority boarding privileges are already a benefit of being an "A-List" tier member under the Company's Rapid Rewards Loyalty Program). The Company has implemented a variable pricing model for EarlyBird Check-In based on the length of the flight and the historical popularity of EarlyBird Check-In on the route.

When available, Southwest sells Upgraded Boarding at the airport, which allows a Customer to pay for an open priority boarding position in the first 15 positions in its "A" boarding group.

Southwest’s Pet Policy provides Customers an opportunity to travel with a small cat or dog in the aircraft cabin on domestic flights. Southwest also has an unaccompanied minor travel policy to address the administrative costs and the extra care necessary to safely transport these Customers.

Inflight Entertainment Portal and WiFi Service

Southwest offers inflight entertainment and connectivity service on WiFi-enabled aircraft on the majority of its fleet, where available. Southwest's suite of complimentary offerings onboard WiFi-enabled aircraft includes movies-on-demand, messaging, music, live and on-demand television, weather, a flight tracker, and connecting flight information. The inflight entertainment service allows Customers to enjoy gate-to-gate entertainment directly on their personal wireless devices. Customers can also purchase satellite internet service while on WiFi-enabled aircraft.

The free inflight entertainment offerings include approximately 45 free movies-on-demand each month and free app messaging via iMessage or WhatsApp. The television product consists of over 15 live channels and up to 75 on-demand recorded episodes from popular television series. In addition, the onboard entertainment portal offers free digital music and live streaming radio service to Customers within the onboard entertainment portal.

Rapid Rewards Loyalty Program

Southwest's Rapid Rewards loyalty program enables program members ("Members") to earn points for every dollar spent on Southwest base fares. The amount of points earned under the program is based on the base fare and fare class purchased, with higher fare products (e.g., Business Select) earning more points than lower fare products (e.g., Wanna Get Away). Each fare class is associated with a points earning multiplier, and points for flights are calculated by multiplying the base fare for the flight by the fare class multiplier. The amount of points required to be redeemed for a flight is based on the base fare and a multiplier. Under the program, (i) Members are able to redeem their points for every available seat, every day, on every flight, with no blackout dates; and (ii) points do not expire.

Under the program, Members continue to accumulate points until the time they decide to redeem them. As a result, the program provides Members significant flexibility and options for earning and redeeming rewards. For example, Members can earn more points (and/or achieve tiered status such as A-List and Companion Pass faster) by purchasing higher fare tickets. Members also have significant flexibility in redeeming points, such as the opportunity to book in advance to take advantage of a lower fare ticket (including many fare sales) and redeem fewer points or by being able to redeem more points and book at the last minute if seats are still available for sale. Members can also earn points through qualifying purchases with Rapid Rewards Partners (which include, for example, car rental agencies, hotels, and restaurants), as well as by using Southwest's co-branded Chase® Visa
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credit card. In addition to earning points for revenue flights and qualifying purchases with Rapid Rewards Partners, Members also have the ability to purchase, gift, and transfer points, as well as the ability to donate points to selected charities.

Southwest's Rapid Rewards loyalty program features tier status and Companion Pass programs for the most active Members, including "A-List" and "A-List Preferred" status. A Member who flies 25 qualifying one-way flight segments booked through Southwest or earns 35,000 tier qualifying points per calendar year will qualify for A-List status. A Member who flies 50 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest or earns 70,000 tier qualifying points per calendar year will qualify for A-List Preferred status. Except as noted below with respect to actions taken by the Company in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Member will maintain A-List or A-List Preferred status for the remainder of the calendar year in which the status was earned and for the entire calendar year immediately following. Both A-List and A-List Preferred Members enjoy benefits such as "Fly By®" priority check-in and security lane access, where available, as well as dedicated phone lines, standby priority, and an earnings bonus on eligible revenue flights (25 percent for A-List and 100 percent for A-List Preferred). In addition, A-List Preferred Members enjoy free inflight satellite internet service on WiFi-enabled aircraft when available. Members who attain A-List or A-List Preferred status receive priority boarding privileges. When these Customers purchase travel at least 36 hours prior to flight time, they receive the best boarding position available (generally, an "A" boarding pass). During the day of travel, if an A-List or A-List Preferred Member's plans change, they have free same-day standby privileges, which allow them to fly on earlier flights between the same city pairs if space is available. Beginning January 1, 2021, A-List and A-List Preferred Members have the same standby privileges free of airline charges, but will be required to pay any additional government taxes and fees associated with changes in their itinerary. Another feature of the Rapid Rewards loyalty program is the Companion Pass. Members who fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year automatically receive a Companion Pass, which provides for unlimited travel for the designated Companion free of charges (other than taxes and fees). Except as noted below with respect to actions taken by the Company in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Companion Pass is valid for the remainder of the calendar year in which status was earned and for the following full calendar year to any destination available on Southwest for a designated Companion of the qualifying Member. The Member and designated Companion must travel together on the same flight.

Southwest's Rapid Rewards loyalty program has been designed to drive more revenue by (i) bringing in new Customers, including new Members, as well as new holders of Southwest's co-branded Chase Visa credit card; (ii) increasing business from existing Customers; and (iii) strengthening the Company's Rapid Rewards hotel, rental car, credit card, and other partnerships.

For 2020, Customers of Southwest redeemed approximately 4.1 million flight awards, accounting for approximately 15.8 percent of revenue passenger miles flown. For 2019, Customers of Southwest redeemed approximately 10.7 million flight awards, accounting for approximately 14.1 percent of revenue passenger miles flown. For 2018, Customers of Southwest redeemed approximately 10.4 million flight awards, accounting for approximately 13.8 percent of revenue passenger miles flown. The Company's accounting policies with respect to its loyalty programs are discussed in more detail in Note 1 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

The Company took significant measures in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to enhance its Rapid Rewards loyalty program including the following:

Through December 15, 2020, Rapid Rewards Members who had qualified travel funds set to expire on September 7, 2022, were given the option to convert those travel funds into Rapid Rewards points at the same rate as they were able to purchase a ticket with points;
All Rapid Rewards Members who had opened a Rapid Rewards account by April 1, 2020 received a “boost” of 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status, and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status;
For A-List and A-List Preferred Members who earned tier status in 2020, earned status was extended through December 31, 2021; and
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For Companion Pass Members who earned Companion Pass benefits to be used through December 2020, Companion Pass benefits were extended through June 30, 2021.

Additionally, in January 2021, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company made additional changes that affected tier status as well as Companion Pass eligibility, all with the intention of enhancing the Company's Rapid Rewards loyalty program and its Members’ experiences:

All Rapid Rewards Members with valid Rapid Rewards accounts as of December 31, 2020, received a “boost” of 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status, and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status;
Through December 31, 2021, for Members with Southwest's co-branded Chase® Visa Premier or Priority Consumer credit cards, or Premier or Performance Business credit cards, for every $10,000 in spend on their credit cards, they will receive 1,500 Tier Qualifying Points, and those Tier Qualifying Points will be uncapped; and
For Companion Pass Members who earned Companion Pass benefits to be used through December 2020, which were previously extended through June 30, 2021, those Companion Pass benefits were further extended through December 31, 2021.

Southwest.com and Direct to Customer Distribution Approach

The Company primarily offers its fare products directly to Customers through its Internet website, Southwest.com. For the years ended December 31, 2020, and December 31, 2019, approximately 83 percent and 80 percent, respectively, of the Company’s Passenger revenues originated from Southwest.com (including revenues from SWABIZ, the Company's online booking tool designed for business Customers who prefer a self-service and low-cost solution for booking their air travel on Southwest). This "direct to Customer" distribution approach has historically provided a cost advantage for the Company because it eliminates fees associated with the use of third party distribution channels such as third party online travel platforms. The Company augments its direct to Customer distribution approach by offering a broad suite of digital platforms to support Customers' travel needs, including full featured websites and apps. These digital platforms help Customers to book and manage their Southwest air travel and also facilitate the purchase of the Company’s ancillary products, including EarlyBird, Business Select, vacation packages, rental car reservations, hotel reservations, and travel activities. In addition, the digital platforms provide self-service tools for reservation management and Customer support.

During 2020, the Company launched multiple new digital capabilities to improve Customer self-service, including the ability to update reservation details, and also to perform partial trip cancellations. To better gauge Customers' response to their digital experiences, the Company also launched digital surveying technology, which was used frequently during the COVID-19 pandemic to monitor Customer sentiment. Mobile self-service capabilities were also enhanced during 2020, enabling Customers to find helpful support content on their mobile device without needing agent assistance, and also improving the ability to e-mail a Customer Service Agent from a mobile device. In particular, the Company added mobile self-service capabilities to (i) support mobile boarding passes for bookings of up to eight passengers, (ii) allow travel funds to be used during a booking modification, and (iii) enable Customers to view their unused funds balances in their mobile account.

The Company also continued to improve the revenue generating capabilities of the digital platforms by offering new features to promote its unique fares and upgrades, adding features to support bookings created in global distribution system platforms. The Company also brought Apple Pay® digital payments technology to its mobile website, allowing for digital Apple Pay® transactions across the web, app, and inflight portal experiences.
During the COVID pandemic, the Company swiftly developed digital tools that enabled Customers to easily convert certain unused travel funds to points with no fees or phone calls. The Company also activated digital health acknowledgements, developed targeted shopping and booking messaging about the changing travel environment, and developed custom portals to share information about travel restrictions and the Southwest Promise™.

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Southwest Business® Initiatives

In addition to improvements in the Company's direct Southwest.com channel of distribution, during 2019 and 2020, the Company took significant action to grow its corporate travel business with the goal of making it easier for corporate travel Customers and travel management companies to do business with Southwest.

In 2019, the Company entered into an agreement with Amadeus IT Group, S.A. ("Amadeus"), and expanded its agreement with Travelport, LP and Travelport International Operations Limited (collectively, "Travelport"), to enable corporate travel Customers and travel management companies to book Southwest products on the Amadeus and Travelport global distribution system ("GDS") platforms. The Company began accepting corporate travel bookings through (i) Travelport's Apollo and Worldspan GDS platforms in second quarter 2020, (ii) Travelport's Galileo GDS platform in third quarter 2020, and (iii) the Amadeus GDS platform in fourth quarter 2020. The Company's expansion into the Travelport and Amadeus GDS channels is intended to facilitate corporate travel managers' ability to book, modify, and cancel Southwest reservations. In December 2020, the Company entered into a new full participation distribution agreement with Sabre Corporation ("Sabre"), to enable Sabre to continue to distribute Southwest content through traditional connectivity to corporations, government agencies, and travel management companies through Sabre's GDS. The new Sabre GDS connectivity is expected to be implemented in second half 2021. The Company also has an agreement with Airlines Reporting Corporation ("ARC") to implement industry-standard processes to handle the settlement of tickets booked through Travelport and Amadeus channels. Once the new Sabre GDS connectivity is implemented, Sabre tickets are also expected to settle via ARC.

Southwest Business has continued to invest in and enhance its online booking tool SWABIZ®, as well as its direct connect channel, with connections to online booking tools, travel management companies, and corporate customers. SWABIZ is designed for business Customers who prefer a self-service and low-cost solution for booking their air travel on Southwest. The site also facilitates car and hotel booking.

Marketing

During 2020, as part of the Company's reduction of operating costs in response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company significantly reduced its traditional marketing areas of focus. Instead, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company implemented and marketed the "Southwest Promise" to reassure Customers of the Company's commitment to Safety and cleanliness from check-in to deplaning the aircraft. The Southwest Promise announced changes to the Company's operations and procedures to better support the well-being of its Employees and Customers, including additional stringent cleaning practices across the fleet and throughout the day, as well as measures to support physical distancing and personal protection and wellness throughout the Customer experience.

Technology Initiatives

Over the past several years, the Company has committed significant resources to technology improvements in support of its ongoing operations and initiatives. During 2020, however, in connection with the Company's efforts to reduce capital and operating expenditures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company narrowed its near-team technology focus and deferred a significant number of technology projects. The Company's key near-term technology focus areas during 2020 included, among others, (i) implementation of corporate GDS capabilities in connection with Southwest Business initiatives; (ii) support of the Company's remote workforce; (iii) enhancements to support Customer loyalty, including with respect to policy updates for Rapid Rewards program tier status and residual travel funds; and (iv) enhancements to Customer self-service capabilities on the Company's digital platforms.

While the Company deferred a significant number of technology projects in 2020, it continued to invest in and execute on major technology projects including, among others, the Company's systems related to (i) aircraft maintenance, planning, and record keeping; (ii) flight planning and scheduling, including with respect to schedule
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changes and Customer reaccommodations; (iii) crew scheduling; (iv) human resources management; and (v) technology infrastructure.

Regulation

The airline industry is heavily regulated, especially by the federal government, and there are a significant number of governmental agencies and legislative bodies that have the ability to directly or indirectly affect the Company and/or the airline industry financially and/or operationally. Examples of regulations affecting the Company and/or the airline industry, imposed by several of these governmental agencies and legislative bodies, are discussed below.

Economic and Operational Regulation

Consumer Protection Regulation by the U.S. Department of Transportation

The DOT regulates economic operating authority for air carriers and consumer protection for airline passengers. The FAA, an agency within the DOT, regulates aviation safety. The DOT and the FAA may impose civil penalties on air carriers for violating their regulations.

To provide passenger transportation in the United States, a domestic airline is required to hold both a Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity from the DOT and an Air Carrier Operating Certificate from the FAA. A Certificate of Public Convenience & Necessity is unlimited in duration, and the Company’s certificate generally permits it to operate among any points within the United States and its territories and possessions. Additional DOT authority, in the form of a certificate or exemption from certificate requirements, is required for a U.S. airline to serve foreign destinations either with its own aircraft or via code-sharing with another airline. Exemptions granted by the DOT to serve international markets are generally limited in duration and are subject to periodic renewal requirements. The DOT may revoke a certificate or exemption, in whole or in part, for failure to comply with federal aviation statutes, regulations, orders, or the terms of the certificate or exemption itself.

The DOT's consumer protection and enforcement authority is derived primarily from a federal statutory prohibition on "unfair or deceptive practices or unfair methods of competition" by air carriers. On December 7, 2020, the DOT published a final rule clarifying its authority in this area. The rule became effective January 6, 2021. The new rule codifies the definitions for the terms ‘‘unfair’’ and ‘‘deceptive’’ in the DOT’s regulations by adopting the definitions used by the Federal Trade Commission, and amends and clarifies the procedures the DOT would follow when engaging in aviation consumer protection rulemaking and enforcement based on its authority to prohibit unfair or deceptive practices. The new rule helps establish clear and consistent criteria for unfair or deceptive practices while aligning DOT’s oversight of aviation entities with other government agencies’ oversight of other sectors of the economy with regard to unfair or deceptive practices.

The DOT is also charged with prohibiting discrimination by airlines against consumers on the basis of (i) disability; and (ii) race, religion, national origin, sex, or ancestry.

Under the above-described authority, the DOT has also adopted so-called "Passenger Protection Rules," which address a wide variety of matters, including flight delays on the tarmac, chronically delayed flights, denied boarding compensation, baggage liability requirements, ticket refunds, and advertising of airfares, among others. For example, under the DOT's tarmac delay rule and subject to limited exceptions, air carriers must not allow an aircraft to remain on the tarmac for more than 3 hours (for domestic delays) or more than 4 hours (for international delays), without allowing passengers to deplane.

In addition, the Passenger Protection Rules require airlines to (i) display ontime performance on their websites; (ii) adopt customer service plans, publish those plans on their website, and audit their own compliance with their plans; (iii) designate an employee to monitor the performance of their flights; (iv) provide information to passengers on how to file complaints; (v) respond in a timely and substantive fashion to consumer complaints; (vi) pay up to four times the passenger's one-way fare to their final destination that day in compensation to each passenger denied
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boarding involuntarily from an oversold flight; (vii) refund any checked bag fee for permanently lost luggage; (viii) prominently disclose all potential fees for optional ancillary services on their websites; and (ix) refund passenger fees paid for ancillary services if a flight cancels or oversells and a passenger is unable to take advantage of such services. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, passed by Congress on October 3, 2018, and signed into law on October 5, 2018 (the "2018 Reauthorization Act"), directs the DOT to revise regulations to clarify there is not a maximum level of compensation an air carrier may pay to a passenger who is involuntary denied boarding as a result of an oversold flight.

The Passenger Protection Rules also require that (i) advertised fares include all government-mandated taxes and fees; (ii) passengers be allowed to either hold a reservation for up to 24 hours without making a payment or cancel a paid reservation without penalty for 24 hours after the reservation is made, as long as the reservation is made at least seven days in advance of travel; (iii) fares may not increase after purchase; (iv) baggage fees must be disclosed to the passenger at the time of booking; (v) the same baggage allowances and fees must apply throughout a passenger’s trip; (vi) baggage fees must be disclosed on e-ticket confirmations; and (vii) passengers must be promptly notified in the event of delays of more than 30 minutes or if there is a cancellation or diversion of their flight.

The DOT has expressed its intent to aggressively investigate alleged violations of its consumer protection rules. Airlines that violate certain aviation economic regulations and statutes are subject to potential fines of up to $34,174 per occurrence.

The DOT has proposed a rule that would provide for changes to the accessibility of lavatories on single-aisle aircraft for passengers with disabilities. These proposed changes include modifications to the interior of the lavatory, additional services that airlines would provide with respect to lavatory access, training requirements, and improvements to the aircraft's onboard wheelchair. The DOT is also expected to propose and seek comments on a separate rule addressing long-term accessibility changes, such as the requirement for airlines to provide one larger lavatory on single-aisle aircraft. The rulemaking would solicit comment and gather updated information on the costs and benefits of requiring airlines to make lavatories on new single-aisle aircraft large enough, equivalent to that currently found on twin-aisle aircraft, to permit a passenger with a disability (with the help of an assistant, if necessary) to approach, enter, and maneuver within the aircraft lavatory as necessary to use all lavatory facilities and leave by means of the aircraft's on-board wheelchair. Requirements to expand the size of lavatories could impose substantial costs on the Company, either in the short-term or the long-term. Whether the DOT will actually adopt a new rule requiring larger lavatories, and the timing and application of any new rule, are unknown at this time.

In December 2020, the DOT issued a new rule allowing airlines to recognize emotional support animals as pets rather than service animals. Under the new rule, airlines are still required to accept trained service dogs. Airlines can also require a new DOT standardized form wherein the animal’s handler certifies that the animal is trained to behave in the cabin and has the necessary vaccinations. The Company is in the process of modifying its policies and procedures to align with the new rule.

The 2018 Reauthorization Act includes numerous provisions related to the DOT's rules and authority. For example:

the DOT has been given the authority to impose triple the maximum fines for damages to passengers' wheelchairs or other mobility aids, as well as for injury to passengers with disabilities;
the DOT has been directed to implement a rulemaking to require air carriers to promptly provide a refund for any ancillary fee paid for services a passenger does not receive; and
the 2018 Reauthorization Act makes it an unfair and deceptive practice to involuntarily deplane a revenue passenger onboard an aircraft if that passenger is traveling on a confirmed reservation and is checked-in for the relevant flight prior to the applicable check-in deadline.

With the exception of potential DOT rules relating to on-board wheelchair requirements and accessible lavatory requirements, which could affect the Company’s future capital expenditures for new aircraft, the Company does not
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believe that pending regulatory developments in this area will have a material effect on the Company's capital expenditures, earnings, or competitive position.

Aviation Taxes and Fees

The statutory authority for the federal government to collect most types of aviation taxes, which are used, in part, to finance programs administered by the FAA, must be periodically reauthorized by the U.S. Congress. The 2018 Reauthorization Act extends most commercial aviation taxes through September 30, 2023. The CARES Act signed into law in March 2020, provided a temporary tax “holiday” from collecting and remitting certain government ticket taxes for tickets purchased between March 28, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

In addition to FAA-related taxes, there are additional federal taxes related to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. These taxes do not need to be reauthorized periodically. Congress has set the Transportation Security Fee paid by passengers at $5.60 per one-way passenger trip originating in the U.S. In addition, international passengers arriving in the U.S. are subject to U.S. immigration and customs fees that are indexed to inflation. These fees are used to support the operations of U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP"). Finally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service imposes an agriculture inspection fee on international passengers arriving in the United States.

In 2021, Congress is expected to consider legislation related to federal spending on public infrastructure, including at airports. This legislation could result in an increase in the maximum Passenger Facility Charge, which is assessed by airports and collected by airlines, currently capped at $4.50 per enplanement (with a maximum of two Passenger Facility Charges on a one-way trip). Conversely, this legislation could also result in an infusion of federal investment in public infrastructure that may benefit all modes of transportation.

Finally, the annual congressional budget process is another legislative vehicle by which new aviation taxes or regulations may be imposed. The annual appropriations bill funds the federal government - including the DOT, the FAA, the Transportation Security Administration (the "TSA"), and CBP. Passage of the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill will be considered throughout 2021 and could result in an increase in one or more of the taxes and fees discussed above, as well as new mandates on the DOT to begin or complete rulemakings related to airline consumer protection.

Operational, Safety, and Health Regulation

The FAA has the authority to regulate safety aspects of civil aviation operations. Specifically, the Company and certain of its third-party service providers are subject to the jurisdiction of the FAA with respect to aircraft maintenance and operations, including equipment, ground facilities, dispatch, communications, training, and other matters affecting air safety. The FAA, from time to time, issues orders or directives relating to the maintenance and operation of aircraft that require significant expenditures or operational restrictions. The FAA, acting through its own powers or through the appropriate U.S. Attorney, has the power to bring proceedings for the imposition and collection of civil penalties for violation of the FAA's regulations.

The FAA requires airlines to obtain and maintain an Air Carrier Operating Certificate, as well as other certificates, approvals, and authorities. These certificates, approvals, and authorities are subject to suspension or revocation for cause.

The FAA has rules in effect with respect to flight, duty, and rest regulations. Among other things, the rules (i) require a ten hour minimum rest period prior to a pilot’s flight duty period; (ii) mandate that a pilot must have an opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep within the rest period; and (iii) impose pilot "flight time" and "duty time" limitations based upon report times, the number of scheduled flight segments, and other operational factors. The FAA has established flight attendant duty period limitations and rest requirements based on the length of a flight attendant’s scheduled duty period, number of flight attendants assigned to a flight, and other operational factors. The 2018 Reauthorization Act contains a provision requiring a modification to the FAA's rules to increase
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the required flight attendant rest period between duty periods. The FAA has solicited input from the airline industry and other interested parties to obtain more information about current operations with flight attendants and the potential benefits and costs to inform the rulemaking. Flight, duty, and rest regulations affect the Company’s staffing flexibility, which could impact the Company’s operational performance, costs, and Customer Experience.

The 2018 Reauthorization Act also contains provisions directing the FAA to issue new regulations to establish minimum dimensions for seat size. Further, the 2018 Reauthorization Act expands human trafficking training requirements beyond flight attendants to include several public-facing Employee work groups, as well as requires air carriers to implement a plan and develop training with protocols for preventing and responding to verbal or physical assault committed against customer service agents.

In addition to its role as safety regulator, the FAA operates the nation’s air traffic control system and has continued its lengthy and ongoing effort to implement a multi-faceted, air traffic control modernization program called "NextGen." As part of the NextGen initiative, in 2010 the FAA published rules requiring most commercial aircraft operating in the national airspace system to be equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast ("ADS-B") technology by January 1, 2020. ADS-B technology is intended to enhance safety and efficiency by moving from ground-based radar and navigational aids to precise tracking using satellite signals. In addition to environmental and efficiency benefits, ADS-B technology gives pilots and air traffic controllers new tools to reduce the risk of runway incursions and aircraft collisions. The Company has implemented technology and programs intended to comply with all applicable ADS-B requirements.

The Air Traffic Organization ("ATO") is the operational arm of the FAA. The ATO is responsible for providing safe and efficient air navigation services to all of the United States and large portions of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico. The Company is subject to any operational changes imposed by the FAA/ATO as they relate to the NextGen program, as well as the day-to-day management of the air traffic control system. The 2018 Reauthorization Act directs the FAA to (i) undertake a comprehensive review and prepare a full report on NextGen implementation and (ii) annually report on NextGen progress and return on investment.

The Company is subject to various other federal, state, and local laws and regulations relating to health and occupational safety, including Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and Food and Drug Administration regulations. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, federal, state, and local government authorities implemented directives, orders, and regulations intended to mitigate the spread of the virus, and in response, the Company modified its practices, policies, and procedures, as appropriate. For example, on January 12, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order effective January 26, 2021 requiring that all passengers (2 years of age or older) traveling by air to the United States from a foreign country (i) obtain a COVID-19 test no more than 3 days before their flight departs, and (ii) provide proof of a negative result (or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19) to the airline prior to boarding the flight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and TSA also issued orders effective February 1, 2021, mandating the wearing of face masks on flights, subject to certain limited exceptions. Additional health requirements or standards, whether mandated by government agencies or voluntarily adopted by the Company, related to the COVID-19 pandemic or otherwise intended to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases could affect the Company’s costs and performance.

For further information pertaining to the FAA’s oversight and regulatory authority, as well as health and safety regulations related to COVID-19, see “Risk Factors - Legal, Regulatory, Compliance, and Reputational Risks, and COVID-19 Risks.”

Security Regulation

Pursuant to the Aviation and Transportation Security Act ("ATSA"), the TSA, a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for certain civil aviation security matters. ATSA and subsequent TSA regulations and procedures implementing ATSA address, among other things, (i) flight deck security; (ii) the use of federal air marshals onboard flights; (iii) airport and aircraft access security; (iv) airline crew security
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training; (v) security screening of passengers, baggage, cargo, mail, employees, and vendors; (vi) training and qualifications of security screening personnel; (vii) provision of passenger data to CBP; and (viii) background checks.

Under ATSA, substantially all security officers at airports are federal employees, and significant other elements of airline and airport security are overseen and performed by federal employees, including federal security managers, federal law enforcement officers, and federal air marshals. TSA personnel and TSA-mandated security procedures can affect the Company's operations, costs, and Customer experience. For example, as part of its security measures, the TSA regulates the types of liquid items that can be carried onboard aircraft. In addition, as part of its Secure Flight program, the TSA requires airlines to collect a passenger's full name (as it appears on a government-issued ID), date of birth, gender, and Redress Number (if applicable). Airlines must transmit this information to Secure Flight, which uses the information to perform matching against terrorist watch lists. After matching passenger information against the watch lists, Secure Flight transmits the matching results back to airlines. This serves to identify individuals for more extensive security screening and to prevent individuals on watch lists from boarding an aircraft. It also helps prevent the misidentification of passengers who have names similar to individuals on watch lists. The TSA's multi-layered approach to airport security also includes physical pat down procedures at security checkpoints. These procedures have raised privacy concerns by some air travelers, and have caused delays at screening checkpoints.

Pursuant to the 2018 Reauthorization Act, the FAA is required to issue an order requiring installation of a physical secondary cockpit barrier on "each new aircraft that is manufactured" for delivery to a passenger air carrier. A working group comprised of industry technical experts provided advice and recommendations to the FAA in 2020 on the most effective ways to implement the physical secondary cockpit barrier requirement. Depending on if and how the FAA reacts to the working group’s advice and recommendations, as well as the FAA's interpretation and application of the statutory requirement, compliance with the future FAA order could impose a substantial cost on the Company.

The Company, in conjunction with the TSA, participates in TSA PreCheck™, a pre-screening initiative that allows passengers deemed low risk by the TSA to move through security checkpoints with greater efficiency and ease when traveling. Eligible passengers may use dedicated screening lanes at certain airports the Company serves for screening benefits, which include leaving on shoes, light outerwear, and belts, as well as leaving laptops and permitted liquids in carryon bags. A similar CBP-administered program, Global Entry®, allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk international travelers upon arrival in the United States. The TSA has expressed its plans to leverage advanced transportation security screening technologies, including biometric solutions, to improve security effectiveness and operational efficiency, while also enhancing the passenger experience. The advanced technologies have prompted privacy, cost, and legal concerns from air carriers, travelers, and advocacy groups, which could affect the timing and viability of the TSA's plans.

The Company also participates in the TSA Known Crewmember® program, which is a risk-based screening system that enables TSA security officers to positively verify the identity and employment status of flight-crew members. The program expedites flight crew member access to sterile areas of airports.

The Company works collaboratively with TSA, foreign national governments, and airports to provide risk-based security measures at international locations served by the Company.

The Department of Homeland Security has granted the Company designation coverage under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (the "SAFETY Act") through September 29, 2022. Designation coverage affords the Company certain limitations of liability for claims arising out of an "act of terrorism," as defined under the SAFETY Act. The designation is based on the security program used by the Company to protect its Employees, Customers, and assets from terrorists and other criminal activities.

The Company has made significant investments in facilities, equipment, and technology to process Customers, checked baggage, and cargo efficiently in compliance with applicable security regulations; however, the Company
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is not able to predict the impact, if any, that various security measures or TSA resource limitations at certain airports will have on Passenger revenues and the Company’s costs, either in the short-term or the long-term.

Environmental Regulation

The Company is subject to various federal laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, including the Clean Air Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, as well as state and local laws and regulations. These laws and regulations govern aircraft drinking water, emissions, storm water discharges from operations, and the disposal of materials such as jet fuel, chemicals, hazardous waste, and aircraft deicing fluid.

Additionally, in conjunction with airport authorities, other airlines, and state and local environmental regulatory agencies, the Company, as a normal course of business, undertakes voluntary investigation or remediation of soil or groundwater contamination at various airport sites. The Company has not historically experienced any airport site environmental liability that has had a material adverse effect on its capital expenditures, earnings, or competitive position. However, many airports, as well as federal, state and local governmental authorities, are increasingly focused on groundwater contamination caused by so-called “forever chemicals,” most notably per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). PFAS have been used in many manufacturing and industrial applications over many decades and can be found in numerous products, including building materials and household products. Most notably for aviation, PFAS are a key component in aqueous film-forming foam (“AFFF”), which is widely used to fight petroleum-based fires at both commercial and military aviation facilities. The FAA and the U.S. Department of Defense have strict performance specifications for fire suppression systems, which has contributed to the use of AFFF/PFAS over the decades. PFAS is now the focus of regulatory oversight at airports, as well as the source of litigation by airports against AFFF manufacturers. Moreover, regulatory authorities at the federal, state, and local levels are contemplating both the prohibition of PFAS-based AFFF and costly remediation efforts at airports to address groundwater contamination. The evolving legal and regulatory activity surrounding PFAS could lead to an inadequate supply of FAA-certified AFFF throughout the aviation system and/or increased operating costs at certain airports.

The federal government, as well as several state and local governments, the governments of other countries, and the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization ("ICAO") have implemented legislative and regulatory proposals and voluntary measures to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the federal level, in July 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (the "EPA") issued a final endangerment finding for greenhouse gas emissions from certain types of aircraft engines, which the agency determined contribute to pollution that causes climate change and endangers public health and the environment. Following this endangerment finding, per the federal Clean Air Act, the EPA adopted aircraft greenhouse gas emissions standards in December 2020. These standards apply to airframe and aircraft engine manufacturers, and align with the standards previously adopted by ICAO.

In addition to aircraft emissions standards, ICAO implemented a "global market-based measure" framework in an effort to control carbon dioxide emissions from international aviation. The focal point of this framework is a carbon offsetting system applicable to aircraft operators designed to cap the growth of emissions related to international aviation emissions. ICAO's Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation ("CORSIA") program is a global market-based measure intended to cap carbon emissions from international civil aviation at their 2019 levels, enabling carbon-neutral growth for the international aviation sector by requiring that international aviation emissions above 2019 levels are offset or reduced through the use of sustainable aviation fuels. The U.S. federal government has opted to participate in the voluntary phases of the CORSIA program from 2021-2026 (additional phases extend through 2035). As part of the CORSIA program, the Company is currently monitoring its international emissions for reporting purposes. Data collected from applicable international flight activity in 2019 will form the baseline and be used in the calculations to determine subsequent carbon offsetting requirements under the CORSIA program. Regardless of the method of regulation or application of CORSIA, further policy changes
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with regard to climate change are possible, which could significantly increase operating costs in the airline industry and, as a result, adversely affect operations.

In addition to climate change, aircraft noise continues to be an environmental focus, especially as the FAA implements new flight procedures as part of its NextGen airspace modernization program discussed above. The Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 gives airport operators the right, under certain circumstances, to implement local noise abatement programs, provided they do not unreasonably interfere with interstate or foreign commerce or the national air transportation system. Some airports have established airport restrictions to limit noise, including restrictions on aircraft types to be used and limits on the number of hourly or daily operations or the time of operations. These types of restrictions can cause curtailments in service or increases in operating costs and can limit the ability of air carriers to expand operations at the affected airports.

At the federal level, the FAA has committed to inform and involve the public, engage with communities, and give meaningful consideration to community concerns and views when developing new flight procedures, and there is a possibility that Congress may enact legislation in 2021 to address local noise concerns at one or more commercial airports in the United States. In addition, the 2018 Reauthorization Act requires the FAA to consider community noise concerns when proposing a new navigation departure procedure or amending an existing navigation procedure that would direct aircraft over noise sensitive areas. This requirement could delay or otherwise impede the implementation or use of more efficient flight paths.

The Company remains steadfast in its desire to pursue, implement, and enhance initiatives that will reduce fuel consumption, which reduces carbon emissions, and improve fuel efficiency. During 2020, the Company continued its efforts to improve the efficiency of its flight planning and flight operations. In addition, over the years, the Company has undertaken a number of other fuel conservation and emissions reduction initiatives such as the following:

introduction of the MAX aircraft into the Company's fleet, which is more fuel-efficient and releases fewer CO₂ emissions than the Company's other aircraft;
installation of blended winglets, which reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency, on all aircraft in the Company's fleet;
upgrading of the Company's 737-800 fleet with designed, split scimitar winglets;
periodic engine washes;
use of electric ground power and pre-conditioned air for aircraft at the gate, when available;
replacement of eligible internal combustion ground support equipment with electric equipment at select locations;
deployment of auto-throttle and vertical navigation to maintain optimum cruising speeds;
implementation of engine start procedures to support the Company's single engine taxi procedures;
adjustment of the timing of auxiliary power unit starts on originating flights to reduce auxiliary power unit usage;
implementation of fuel planning initiatives to safely reduce loading of excess fuel;
aircraft cabin interior retrofitting to reduce weight;
reduction of aircraft engine idle speed while on the ground, which also increases engine life;
galley refreshes with dry goods weight reduction;
Company-optimized routes (flying the best wind routes to take advantage of tailwinds or to minimize headwinds);
improvements in flight planning algorithms to better match the Company's aircraft flight management system and thereby enable the Company to fly at the most efficient altitudes;
substitution of Pilot and Flight Attendant flight bags with lighter Electronic Flight Bag tablets; and
implementation of Real Time Descent Winds (automatic uplinking of up-to-date wind data to the aircraft, allowing crews to time the descent to minimize thrust inputs).
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The Company has also participated in Required Navigation Performance ("RNP") operations as part of the FAA's Performance Based Navigation program, a key component of the NextGen program, which is intended to modernize the U.S. air traffic control system by addressing limitations on air transportation capacity and making more efficient use of airspace. RNP combines the capabilities of advanced aircraft avionics, Global Positioning System ("GPS") satellite navigation (instead of less precise ground-based navigation), and new flight procedures to (i) enable aircraft to carry navigation capabilities, rather than relying on airports; (ii) improve operational capabilities by opening up many new and more direct airport approach paths to produce safer and more efficient flight patterns; and (iii) conserve fuel and reduce emissions. Since its first use of RNP in 2011, Southwest has conducted approximately 321,000 RNP approaches, including over 84,500 in 2020. Southwest must rely on RNP approaches published by the FAA, and the rate of introduction and utilization of RNP approaches continues to be slower than expected, with fuel efficient and emissions reducing RNP approaches currently available at only 57 of the airports Southwest serves. In addition, even at airports with approved RNP approaches, the clearance required from air traffic controllers to perform RNP approaches is often not granted. Southwest continues to work with the FAA to develop and seek more use of RNP approaches and to evolve air traffic control rules to support greater utilization of RNP.

As part of its commitment to corporate sustainability, the Company has published the Southwest One ReportTM describing the Company's sustainability strategies, which include the foregoing and other efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address other environmental matters such as energy and water conservation, waste minimization, and recycling. Information contained in the Southwest One Report is not incorporated by reference into, and does not constitute a part of, this Form 10-K.

Government efforts at the international, federal, state, or local levels to address worldwide climate change, manage greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce aircraft noise could affect aircraft operators, original equipment manufacturers, producers and sellers of aviation fuel, and other third parties on which the Company is dependent. Additional legislative or regulatory activity in this area could require modifications to the Company’s equipment, operations, and strategy, and have a material effect on the Company's capital expenditures, earnings, or competitive position.

Data Privacy and Security Regulation

Like all industries, the airline industry has experienced heightened legislative and regulatory focus on data privacy and data security in the United States and elsewhere. As a result, the Company has been monitoring a growing and fast-evolving set of legal requirements in this area that give consumers much broader access and control over their personal information.

The Company expects federal, state, and other governments to assess and implement cyber-security and data privacy protections, which could result in expanded compliance burdens, costs, and enforcement risks for the Company.

International Regulation

All international air service is subject to certain U.S. federal requirements and approvals, as well as the regulatory requirements of the appropriate authorities of the foreign countries involved. Foreign regulatory agencies located in jurisdictions served by the Company can impose requirements on various aspects of the Company’s business, including safety, marketing, ticket sales, staffing, and tax. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, certain U.S and foreign regulatory authorities have imposed health requirements for international passengers. For example, on January 12, 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order effective January 26, 2021, requiring that all passengers (2 years of age or older) traveling by air to the United States from a foreign country (i) obtain a COVID-19 test no more than 3 days before their flight departs, and (ii) provide proof of a negative result (or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19) to the airline prior to boarding the flight. This order and other new or existing health requirements for international travel could adversely affect demand and the performance of the Company’s international flight offerings.
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The Company has obtained the necessary economic authority from the DOT, as well as approvals required by the FAA and applicable foreign government entities, to conduct operations, under certain circumstances, to points outside of the continental United States currently served by the Company. Certain international authorities and approvals held by the Company are subject to periodic renewal requirements. The Company requests extensions of such authorities and approvals when and as appropriate. To the extent the Company seeks to serve additional foreign destinations in the future, or to renew its authority to serve certain routes, it may be required to obtain necessary authority from the DOT and/or approvals from the FAA, as well as any applicable foreign government entity.

Certain international markets are governed by bilateral air transportation agreements between the United States and foreign countries. Changes in U.S. or foreign government aviation policies could result in the alteration or termination of such agreements, diminish the value of the Company's existing international authorities, present barriers to renewing existing or securing new authorities, or otherwise affect the Company's international operations. There are also capacity limitations at certain international airports, which could impact future service levels. In general, bilateral agreements between the United States and foreign countries the Company currently serves, or may serve in the future, may be subject to renegotiation or reinterpretation from time to time. While the U.S. government has negotiated "open skies" agreements with many countries, which allow for unrestricted access between the United States and respective foreign destinations, agreements with other countries may restrict the Company's entry into those destinations and/or its related growth opportunities.

The CBP is the federal agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security charged with facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. regulations with respect to trade, customs, and immigration. To the extent the Company expands its international flight offerings, CBP and its requirements and resources will also become increasingly important considerations to the Company. For instance, with the exception of flights from a small number of foreign "preclearance" locations, arriving international flights may only land at CBP-designated airports, and CBP officers must be present and in sufficient numbers at those airports to effectively process and inspect arriving international passengers, baggage, and cargo. Thus, CBP personnel and CBP-mandated procedures can affect the Company's operations, costs, and Customer experience. The Company has made significant investments in facilities, equipment, and technologies at certain airports in order to improve the Customer experience and to assist CBP with its inspection and processing duties; however, the Company is not able to predict the impact, if any, that various CBP measures or the lack of CBP resources will have on the Company's revenues and costs, either in the short-term or the long-term.

Insurance

The Company carries insurance of types customary in the airline industry and in amounts the Company deems adequate to protect the Company and its property and to comply both with applicable regulations and certain of the Company's credit and lease agreements. The policies principally provide coverage for public and passenger liability, property damage, cargo and baggage liability, loss or damage to aircraft, engines, and spare parts, and workers’ compensation. In addition, the Company carries a cyber-security insurance policy with regards to data protection and business interruption associated with both security breaches from malicious parties and from certain system failures. The Company also manages insured risk through the use of reinsurance programs, pooling mechanisms, and a wholly-owned captive insurance subsidiary.

Although the Company has been able to purchase aviation, property, liability, and professional insurance via the commercial insurance marketplace, available commercial insurance could be more expensive in the future and/or have material differences in coverage than insurance that has historically been provided and may not be adequate to protect the Company's risk of loss from future events, including acts of terrorism. Further, available cyber-security insurance with regards to data protection and business interruption could be more expensive in the future and/or have material differences in coverage than insurance that has historically been provided and may not be adequate to protect the Company's risk of loss. With respect to any insurance claims, policy coverages and claims are subject to
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acceptance by the many insurers involved and may require arbitration and/or mediation to effectively settle the claims over prolonged periods of time.

Competition

Competition within the airline industry is intense and highly unpredictable, and Southwest has competed with other airlines on virtually all of its scheduled routes. In recent years, the majority of domestic airline service has been provided by Southwest and the other largest major U.S. airlines, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines. The DOT defines major U.S. airlines as those airlines with annual revenues of at least $1 billion; there are currently 13 passenger airlines offering scheduled service, including Southwest, that meet this standard.

Key competitive factors within the airline industry have historically included (i) pricing and cost structure; (ii) routes, loyalty programs, and schedules; and (iii) customer service, operational reliability, and amenities. As discussed below, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the competitive landscape amongst the airlines, as the industry has been forced to prioritize liquidity and cost control, which in turn has driven actions such as more widespread discounted fares and flexible customer policies to stimulate traffic.

Airlines, including Southwest, also compete for customers with alternatives to travel, such as videoconferencing and business communication platforms. These alternatives have become particularly prevalent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pricing and Cost Structure

Pricing is a significant competitive factor in the airline industry, and the availability of fare information on the Internet allows travelers to easily compare fares and identify competitor promotions and discounts. During 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company experienced an increasingly competitive fare environment, as airlines offered significantly discounted fares to attempt to address unprecedented decreases in consumer demand.

Pricing can be driven by a variety of factors. In addition to the need to stimulate traffic, as has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, under normal circumstances, airlines may discount fares to drive traffic in new markets and/or grow market share in existing markets.

The Company believes its low-cost operating structure has historically provided it with an advantage over many of its airline competitors by enabling it to continue to charge low fares. In addition, the Company believes its low-cost operating structure provided it with a significant financial competitive advantage relative to many of its competitors in responding to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, as discussed below under "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," all U.S. airlines have continued to experience significant unit cost pressure as a result of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While it has become increasingly difficult for the Company to improve upon its industry cost position, the Company believes its Customer Service, flexible Customer and Rapid Rewards policies, and commitments such as the Southwest Promise continue to positively differentiate it from many of its competitors.

Routes, Loyalty Programs, and Schedules

The Company also competes with other airlines based on markets served, loyalty opportunities, and flight schedules. While the Company has a robust, point-to-point route network in the United States, some major airlines have more extensive route structures than Southwest, including more extensive international networks. In addition, many competitors have entered into significant commercial relationships with other airlines, such as strategic alliances, code-sharing, and capacity purchase agreements, which increase the airlines' opportunities to expand their route offerings. An alliance or code-sharing agreement enables an airline to offer flights that are operated by another airline and also allows the airline’s customers to book travel that includes segments on different airlines through a single reservation or ticket. As a result, depending on the nature of the specific alliance or code-sharing arrangement, a participating airline may be able to, among other things, (i) offer its customers access to more
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destinations than it would be able to serve on its own, (ii) gain exposure in markets it does not otherwise serve, and (iii) increase the perceived frequency of its flights on certain routes. More extensive route structures, as well as alliance and code-sharing arrangements, not only provide additional route flexibility for participating airlines, they can also allow these airlines to offer their customers more opportunities to earn and redeem loyalty miles or points. A capacity purchase agreement enables an airline to expand its route structure by paying another airline (e.g., a regional airline with smaller aircraft) to operate flights on its behalf in markets that it does not, or cannot, serve itself. The Company continues to evaluate and implement initiatives to better enable itself to offer additional itineraries.

Customer Service, Operational Reliability, and Amenities

Southwest also competes with other airlines with respect to Customer Service, operational reliability (such as ontime performance), and passenger amenities. According to statistics published by the DOT, Southwest consistently ranks at or near the top among domestic carriers in Customer Satisfaction for having the lowest Customer complaint ratio. However, in particular in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, carriers are increasingly focusing on customer-friendly policies as opportunities to win and retain Customers. In addition, some airlines have more seating options and associated passenger amenities than Southwest, including first class, business class, and other premium seating and related amenities. New and different types of aircraft flown by competitors could have operational attributes and passenger amenities that could be considered more attractive to certain consumers than those associated with the Company's existing fleet.

Other Forms of Competition

Technology advancements have provided alternatives to air travel, such as videoconferencing, business communication platforms, and the Internet, and these alternatives have significantly increased in scope during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Company is subject to the risk that the significantly increased use of these alternatives could result in permanent changes to consumer behavior and thereby negatively affect demand for air travel.

The airline industry is also subject to varying degrees of competition from other forms of transportation, including surface transportation by automobiles, buses, and trains. Inconveniences and delays associated with air travel security measures can increase surface competition. In addition, surface competition can be significant during economic downturns when consumers cut back on discretionary spending and fewer choose to fly, or when gasoline prices are lower, making surface transportation a less expensive option. Because of the relatively high percentage of short-haul travel provided by Southwest, it is particularly exposed to competition from surface transportation in these instances.

Seasonality

The Company's business is ordinarily seasonal. Generally, in most markets the Company serves, demand for air travel is greater during the summer months, and, therefore, revenues in the airline industry tend to be stronger in the second (April 1 - June 30) and third (July 1 - September 30) quarters of the year than in the first (January 1 - March 31) and fourth (October 1 - December 31) quarters of the year. As a result, in many cases, the Company's results of operations reflect this seasonality. Factors that could alter this seasonality include, among others, global pandemics such as COVID-19, the price of fuel, general economic conditions, changes in consumer behavior, governmental action, extreme or severe weather and natural disasters, fears of terrorism or war, or changes in the competitive environment. Therefore, the Company's quarterly operating results are not necessarily indicative of operating results for the entire year, and historical operating results in a quarterly or annual period are not necessarily indicative of future operating results.

Employees

Total Employees and Labor Union Activity

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At December 31, 2020, the Company had approximately 56,500 active fulltime equivalent Employees, consisting of approximately 24,500 flight, 3,000 maintenance, 19,500 ground, Customer, and fleet service, and 9,500 management, technology, finance, marketing, and clerical personnel (associated with non-operational departments). Approximately 83 percent of these Employees were represented by labor unions. The Railway Labor Act establishes the right of airline employees to organize and bargain collectively. Under the Railway Labor Act, collective-bargaining agreements between an airline and a labor union generally do not expire, but instead become amendable as of an agreed date. By the amendable date, if either party wishes to modify the terms of the agreement, it must notify the other party in the manner required by the Railway Labor Act and/or described in the agreement. After receipt of the notice, the parties must meet for direct negotiations. If no agreement is reached, either party may request the National Mediation Board to appoint a federal mediator. If no agreement is reached in mediation, the National Mediation Board may determine an impasse exists and offer binding arbitration to the parties. If either party rejects binding arbitration, a 30-day "cooling off" period begins. At the end of this 30-day period, the parties may engage in "self-help," unless a Presidential Emergency Board is established to investigate and report on the dispute. The appointment of a Presidential Emergency Board maintains the "status quo" for an additional period of time. If the parties do not reach agreement during this period, the parties may then engage in "self-help." "Self-help" includes, among other things, a strike by the union or the airline’s imposition of any or all of its proposed amendments and the hiring of new employees to replace any striking workers.

The following table sets forth the Company's Employee groups subject to collective bargaining and the status of their respective collective-bargaining agreements as of December 31, 2020:

Employee GroupApproximate Number of EmployeesRepresentativesStatus of Agreement
Southwest Pilots8,500Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association ("SWAPA")In negotiations
Southwest Flight Attendants15,400Transportation Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Local 556 ("TWU 556")In negotiations
Southwest Ramp, Operations, Provisioning, Freight Agents13,100Transportation Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Local 555 ("TWU 555")Amendable February 2021
Southwest Customer Service Agents, Customer Representatives, and Source of Support Representatives6,400International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO ("IAM 142")In negotiations
Southwest Material Specialists (formerly known as Stock Clerks)310International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 19 ("IBT 19")Amendable April 2024
Southwest Mechanics2,500Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association ("AMFA")Amendable August 2024
Southwest Aircraft Appearance Technicians160AMFAIn negotiations
Southwest Facilities Maintenance Technicians40AMFAAmendable November 2022
Southwest Dispatchers390Transportation Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Local 550 ("TWU 550")In negotiations
Southwest Flight Simulator Technicians40International Brotherhood of Teamsters ("IBT")Amendable May 2024
Southwest Flight Crew Training Instructors110Transportation Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Local 557 ("TWU 557")Amendable January 2022
Southwest Meteorologists10TWU 550In negotiations

Human Capital Resources

General

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The Company’s approach to human capital is a critical strategy with priorities that include, among others: (i) attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse and talented workforce; (ii) providing opportunities for learning, development, career growth, and movement within the Company; (iii) evaluating compensation and benefits, and rewarding performance; (iv) investing in physical, emotional, and financial health of Employees; (v) obtaining Employee feedback; (vi) maintaining and enhancing Company culture; and (vii) communicating with the Board of Directors on a routine basis on key topics, including executive succession planning.

The Company has implemented many programs designed to achieve these priorities, including strong Employee training and benefits programs. The Company's vast Employee training and development opportunities address, among other things, leadership development, diversity and inclusion, communication skills, and human trafficking awareness. The Company rewards Employees with competitive compensation and benefits packages, including attractive medical plans, a 401(k) plan with a dollar-for-dollar match for Employees other than Pilots (subject to vesting requirements and certain compensation limits), a 401(k) plan with a non-elective contribution of 15% for Pilots, and a profit sharing plan.

The Company regularly conducts Employee surveys to assess job satisfaction of its Employees, and uses information from the surveys to improve the Company’s ability to attract, develop, and retain talented Employees who will help advance the Company. For many years, the bonus opportunity for the Company's senior leadership group, including its executive officers, has been tied to the Company's performance relative to multiple pre-established performance metrics, including, among others, the Company's voluntary turnover rate for Employees. In addition to bonus opportunities for the Company’s senior leadership group, the Company has implemented performance-based compensation programs for other non-contract employee leaders, including managers, supervisors, and team leads.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion ("DEI") is also an integral part of the Company’s culture and processes that support recruitment, hiring, training, and advancement. In an effort to advance the Company's commitment to DEI, the Company recently established the following goals:

Evolve hiring and development practices to support diversity goals, including posting all open Leadership positions (Supervisor to Vice President) and requiring diverse candidate slates for each role;
Measure progress in increasing diversity in Senior Leadership;
Double the percentage of racial diversity and increase gender diversity in the Company’s Senior Management Committee by 2025; and
Engaging the Company’s breadth of community partners to leverage relationships in sourcing diverse talent.

Additionally, the Company’s Board of Directors has committed to increasing its diverse representation by 2025. The Company has a dedicated Diversity & Inclusion Department that provides regular updates to the Compensation Committee of the Company's Board of Directors. To continue the Company's commitment to inclusion, the Diversity & Inclusion Department has launched a multi-year training plan to increase the cultural competency of the Company's workforce.

Effects of COVID-19

On June 1, 2020, the Company announced Voluntary Separation Program 2020, a voluntary separation program that allowed eligible Employees the opportunity to voluntarily separate from the Company in exchange for severance, medical/dental coverage for a specified period of time, and travel privileges based on years of service. In conjunction with Voluntary Separation Program 2020, the Company also offered certain contract Employees the option to take voluntary Extended Emergency Time Off ("Extended ETO"), for periods between six and 18 months, with the exception of Pilots, who could elect to take Extended ETO for periods up to five years. The Company continues to evaluate and evolve its Extended ETO program, including offering additional Extended ETO opportunities of one, two, or three month durations to certain Employees who are either not currently participating
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in Extended ETO, or who are currently on Extended ETO set to expire in coming months. The purpose of Voluntary Separation Program 2020 and Extended ETO is to maintain a suitable sized workforce to operate at reduced capacity relative to the Company's operations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pursuant to the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act and the Payroll Support Program Extension under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the Company has received funds to protect Employees’ jobs by offsetting payroll expenses. In light of the Payroll Support Program and the Payroll Support Program Extension, the Company has not implemented and does not anticipate implementing pay cuts or furloughs through 2021. For further information about the Voluntary Separation Program 2020, Extended ETO, the Payroll Support Program, and the Payroll Support Program Extension, see "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Additional Information About the Company
The Company was incorporated in Texas in 1967. The following documents are available free of charge through the Company's website, www.southwest.com: the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and any amendments to those reports that are filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") pursuant to Sections 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These materials are made available through the Company's website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. In addition to its reports filed or furnished with the SEC, the Company publicly discloses material information from time to time in its press releases, at annual meetings of Shareholders, in publicly accessible conferences and Investor presentations, and through its website (principally in its Press Room and Investor Relations pages). References to the Company's website in this Form 10-K are provided as a convenience and do not constitute, and should not be deemed, an incorporation by reference of the information contained on, or available through, the website, and such information should not be considered part of this Form 10-K.
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DISCLOSURE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
This Form 10-K contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements are based on, and include statements about, the Company’s estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, and strategies for the future, and the assumptions underlying these forward-looking statements. Specific forward-looking statements can be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts and include, without limitation, words such as "anticipates," "believes," "estimates," "expects," "intends," "may," "will," "would," "could," "plans," "goal," and similar expressions. Although management believes these forward-looking statements are reasonable as and when made, forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual results may differ materially from what is expressed in or indicated by the Company's forward-looking statements or from historical experience or the Company's present expectations. Known material risk factors that could cause these differences are set forth below under "Risk Factors." Additional risks or uncertainties (i) that are not currently known to the Company, (ii) that the Company currently deems to be immaterial, or (iii) that could apply to any company, could also materially adversely affect the Company's business, financial condition, or future results.

Caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on the Company's forward-looking statements, which represent the Company's views only as of the date this Form 10-K is filed. The Company undertakes no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Item 1A.    Risk Factors

COVID-19 Risks

The COVID-19 pandemic has materially and adversely affected, and will likely continue to materially and adversely affect, the Company’s results of operations, financial position, and liquidity.

In late 2019, an outbreak of COVID-19 was identified in Wuhan, China. The COVID-19 outbreak has since spread and grown globally, including within the United States and, in March 2020, the President of the United States declared a national emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has materially and adversely affected passenger demand and bookings for both business and leisure travel, thereby materially and adversely affecting operating income and cash flows from operations. The Company has bolstered its liquidity through the financings discussed in Notes 7, 8, and 9 to the Consolidated Financial Statements. In addition, the Company has aggressively evaluated all capital spending, discretionary spending, and non-essential costs to identify opportunities for cost reductions or deferrals and significantly reduced annual 2020 cash outlays and spending, compared with original plans. The Company's cost reduction actions have included, among others, (i) cutting or deferring non-essential projects; (ii) reducing the Company's published flight schedule; (iii) placing a significant number of aircraft in storage; (iv) implementing voluntary separation and time-off programs for Employees; (v) substantially suspending all hiring; (vi) reducing the Chief Executive Officer's salary by 20 percent; (vii) reducing the other named executive officer salaries and Board of Director cash retainer fees by 20 percent through December 31, 2020; and (viii) where possible, modifying vendor and supplier payment terms.

The extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Company’s business and its financial and operational performance will depend on future developments, including (i) the duration, spread, severity, and any recurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, including through any new variant strains of the underlying virus; (ii) the effectiveness and availability of vaccines; (iii) the duration and scope of related federal, state, and local government orders and restrictions; (iv) the extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on overall demand for air travel; and (v) the Company’s access to capital, all of which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted. Continued reductions in the Company's flight schedule could have a significant negative effect on the Company's overall network and operations.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused public health officials to recommend precautions to mitigate the spread of the virus. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal, state, and local authorities have at various times instituted measures such as imposing testing and self-quarantine requirements, issuing directives forcing businesses to reduce operations or temporarily close, restricting international air travel, and issuing shelter-in-place and similar orders limiting the movement of individuals. Additionally, businesses have restricted non-essential travel for their employees. Such measures have depressed demand for air travel, disrupted the Company’s operations, and materially adversely affected the Company’s business. The resulting cancellations of flights has resulted in a significant amount of cash refunds and the issuance of travel credits to Customers. The total value of refunds, excluding taxes and related fees, issued to Customers during March 2020, second quarter 2020, third quarter 2020, and fourth quarter 2020, was $248 million, $322 million, $162 million, and $202 million, respectively. The cancellations and cash refunds have negatively affected the Company's revenues and liquidity, and the Company expects such negative effects to continue. Further, due to the fears and restrictions involved with travel in the near term, sales of tickets for future travel have been adversely affected. The Company will continue to be materially adversely affected if government authorities extend existing orders or impose new orders or other restrictions intended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, if businesses continue to restrict travel for their employees, or if fear of travel continues to depress future ticket sales.

Certain Employees of the Company, and employees of its suppliers and service providers, including airport and air traffic personnel, have tested positive for or been suspected of having COVID-19. These cases have resulted in the closure of facilities, reduction in available staffing, and disruptions to the Company’s overall operations. Additional instances of actual or perceived risk of infection among the Company’s Employees, or its suppliers’ or service providers’ employees, could further negatively impact the Company’s operations. The Company could also be materially adversely affected if it were unable to effectively maintain a suitably skilled and sized workforce, address employment-related matters, or maintain satisfactory relations with its Employees or its Employees’ representatives.

Moreover, the ability to attract and retain passengers depends, in part, upon the perception and reputation of the Company and the public’s concerns regarding the health and safety of travel generally, especially regarding airline travel. Actual or perceived risk of infection on Company flights could have a material adverse effect on the public's comfort with air travel, which could harm the Company's reputation and business. The Company expects it will continue to incur COVID-19 related costs as it sanitizes airplanes and implements additional hygiene-related protocol to airplanes, and takes other action to limit infection among its Employees and passengers. In addition, the industry may be subject to enhanced health and hygiene requirements in attempts to counteract future outbreaks, which requirements may be costly and take a significant amount of time to implement.

The COVID-19 pandemic may also materially and adversely affect the Company’s supply chain. For example, the Company is dependent on Boeing as its sole supplier for many of its aircraft parts. See other Risk Factors and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” below for further discussion of and risks related to the Company’s relationship with Boeing. The Company is also dependent on (i) sole or limited suppliers for aircraft engines and certain other aircraft parts, equipment, and services; (ii) third party vendors; and (iii) service providers. The COVID-19 pandemic could result in delays and other performance issues, ceased operations, or even bankruptcies among these suppliers, third party vendors, and service providers. If a supplier, third party vendor, or service provider were unable to timely provide adequate products or support for its products, or otherwise fulfill its commitments to the Company, the Company’s operations could be materially adversely affected.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial markets may materially and adversely affect the Company’s access to capital and cost of capital, including its ability to raise funds through equity or debt financings. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in significant disruption of global financial markets, which has negatively impacted the value of the Company’s common stock and its debt ratings and could negatively affect the Company’s liquidity. For example, as a result of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the first half of 2020, Moody’s, S&P Global, and Fitch downgraded the Company’s senior unsecured debt ratings and issuer ratings. If the Company’s credit ratings were to be further downgraded, or general market conditions were to ascribe higher risk to the Company’s rating levels, the airline industry, or the Company, the Company’s access to capital and the cost of
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any debt financing would be negatively affected. The Company continues to evaluate potential sources of additional liquidity in the short-term. The terms of future debt agreements could include more restrictive covenants or require incremental collateral, which could further restrict the Company’s business operations. The extent to which the COVID-19 outbreak affects the Company’s earnings and liquidity will depend, in part, on the Company’s ability to successfully access capital. There is no guarantee that debt or equity financings will be available in the future to fund the Company’s obligations, or that they will be available on terms consistent with the Company’s expectations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly increased economic and demand uncertainty. The current outbreak and continued spread of COVID-19 could cause a global recession, which would have a further adverse impact on the Company’s medium- and long-term financial condition and operations. Historically, unfavorable U.S. economic conditions have driven changes in travel patterns, including reduced spending for both leisure and business travel. Unfavorable economic conditions, when low fares are often used to stimulate traffic, have also historically hampered the ability of airlines to raise fares to counteract any increases in fuel, labor, and other costs. Any significant increases in unemployment in the United States would likely continue to have a negative impact on passenger bookings, and these effects could exist for an extensive period of time.

Recent developments with respect to COVID-19 vaccines have the potential to affect the scope and duration of the pandemic. While a number of COVID-19 vaccines have received regulatory approval and are available in limited quantities in the United States and other parts of the world, a degree of uncertainty exists with respect to the distribution, utilization, and long-term efficacy of vaccinations among the general population. The impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the pandemic, demand for air travel, and the Company’s business remain unknown. Even once the pandemic and fears of travel subside, demand for air travel may remain weak for a significant period of time. In particular, consumer behavior related to traveling may be negatively impacted by adverse changes in the perceived or actual economic climate, including higher unemployment rates, declines in income levels, and loss of wealth resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rapidly evolve. The ultimate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is highly uncertain and subject to change.

The Company has entered into agreements with the U.S. Treasury with respect to funding support pursuant to the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act and the Payroll Support Program Extension; pursuant to these agreements the Company has agreed to certain restrictions on how it operates its business and uses its cash, which could limit the ability of the Company to take actions that it otherwise might have determined were in the best interests of the Company and its Shareholders.

On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act was signed into law. The CARES Act provides liquidity in the form of grants and loans to air carriers, such as the Company, that incurred, or are expected to incur, covered losses such that the continued operations of the business are jeopardized, as determined by the Treasury. In April 2020, the Company entered into an agreement with the Treasury with respect to funding support pursuant to the Payroll Support Program. In January 2021, the Company entered into an additional agreement with the Treasury with respect to the Payroll Support Program Extension. Pursuant to these agreements, the Company has agreed to certain restrictions on, and requirements with respect to, its business and operations, including the following:

The Company is prohibited from repurchasing its common stock and from paying dividends or making capital contributions with respect to its common stock through March 31, 2022;
The Company must place certain restrictions on certain higher-paid employee and executive pay, including limiting pay increases and severance pay or other benefits upon terminations, until October 1, 2022;
The Company is prohibited from implementing involuntary terminations or furloughs of its Employees (except for death, disability, cause, or certain disciplinary reasons) through March 31, 2021;
The Company may not reduce the salaries, wages, or benefits of its Employees (other than its Executive Officers, or as otherwise permitted under the terms of the Payroll Support Program) through March 31, 2021;

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Until March 1, 2022, the Company must comply with any requirement issued by the DOT that the Company maintain certain scheduled air transportation service as DOT deems necessary to ensure services to any point served by the Company before March 1, 2020; and
The Company must maintain certain internal controls and records relating to the CARES Act funds, and is subject to additional reporting requirements.

These restrictions and requirements may necessitate that the Company take, or limit taking, actions it might otherwise believe to be in the best interests of the Company and its Shareholders. For example, the restrictions could require that the Company change certain of its business practices, risk the Company's ability to retain key personnel, and expose the Company to additional costs (including increased compliance costs).

Boeing 737-MAX Risks

The Company is currently dependent on Boeing as the sole manufacturer of the Company's aircraft. Prolonged delays completing the FAA’s requirements to return the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to Customer service, or further regulatory actions by the FAA with respect to the MAX aircraft, could materially and adversely affect the Company’s business plans, strategies, and results of operations.

The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are crucial to the Company’s growth plans and fleet modernization initiatives. On November 18, 2020, the FAA rescinded its March 2019 Boeing 737 MAX grounding order, issued an airworthiness directive, and published training requirements enabling the Company to begin modifying certain operating procedures, implementing enhanced pilot training requirements, installing FAA-approved flight control software updates, and completing other required maintenance tasks specific to the MAX aircraft. See "Business - Boeing 737 MAX Grounding" above. In addition to training its active Pilots, the Company is continuing work on its 34 MAX aircraft delivered prior to the FAA’s rescission of the grounding order to prepare each aircraft for the return to Customer service, including removing the aircraft from storage, installing the new flight control software updates, and performing required maintenance checks. The Company will also conduct multiple readiness flights on each of its MAX aircraft before each such aircraft is operated in Customer service.

The MAX groundings have adversely affected the Company's operations and financial results. While the Company has scheduled the MAX return to service on March 11, 2021, any prolonged delays completing the FAA’s requirements to return the MAX aircraft to Customer service, or further regulatory actions by the FAA with respect to the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, could require additional flight schedule adjustments, result in delays of aircraft deliveries, and materially and adversely affect the Company's business plans, strategies, and results of operations.

Boeing no longer manufactures versions of the 737 other than the 737 MAX family of aircraft. If the 737 MAX aircraft were to again become unavailable for the Company’s flight operations, the Company’s growth would be restricted unless and until it could procure and operate other types of aircraft from Boeing or another manufacturer, seller, or lessor, and the Company’s operations would be materially adversely affected. In particular, if the Company’s growth were to be dependent upon the introduction of a new aircraft make and model to the Company’s fleet, the Company would need to, among other things, (i) develop and implement new maintenance, operating, and training programs; (ii) secure extensive regulatory approvals; and (iii) implement new technologies. The requirements associated with operating a new aircraft make and model could take an extended period of time to fulfill and would likely impose substantial costs on the Company. A shift away from a single fleet type could also add complexity to the Company’s operations, present operational and compliance risks, and materially increase the Company's costs. Any of these events would have a material, adverse effect on the Company's business, operating results, and financial condition. The Company could also be materially adversely affected if the pricing or operational attributes of its aircraft were to become less competitive.

Further, even following the rescission of the FAA order to ground the MAX aircraft, the Company continues to be reliant on Boeing to provide necessary resources and support to return the MAX to Customer service. In addition, following the MAX return to Customer service, the Company could face significant operational challenges in
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efficiently taking delivery of a large number of MAX aircraft from Boeing and reintroducing the MAX aircraft into the Company's network in a controlled and steady manner.

Financial Risks

The airline industry is particularly sensitive to changes in economic conditions; in the event of continued unfavorable economic conditions or economic uncertainty, the Company's results of operations could be further negatively affected, which could require the Company to further adjust its business strategies.

The airline industry, which is subject to relatively high fixed costs and highly variable and unpredictable demand, is particularly sensitive to changes in economic conditions. Historically, unfavorable U.S. economic conditions have driven changes in travel patterns and have resulted in reduced spending for both leisure and business travel. For some consumers, leisure travel is a discretionary expense, and short-haul travelers, in particular, have the option to replace air travel with surface travel. As has become particularly evident as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and other travelers are able to forego air travel by using communication alternatives such as videoconferencing, business communication platforms, and the Internet. In addition, to the extent businesses continue to permit air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are more likely to require the purchase of less expensive tickets to reduce costs. This, in turn, can result in a decrease in average revenue per seat. Also, as has become particularly evident as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, unfavorable economic conditions, when low fares are often used to stimulate traffic, hamper the ability of airlines to raise fares to counteract any increases in fuel, labor, and other costs. Any continuing or future U.S. or global economic uncertainty could further negatively affect the Company's results of operations and could cause the Company to further adjust its business strategies. Additionally, because expenses of a flight do not vary significantly with the number of passengers carried, a relatively small change in the number of passengers can have a disproportionate effect on an airline’s operating and financial results. Therefore, any continued reduction in airline passenger traffic could continue to adversely affect the Company's results of operations.

The Company's business can be significantly impacted by high and/or volatile fuel prices, and the Company's operations are subject to disruption in the event of any delayed supply of fuel; therefore, the Company's strategic plans and future profitability are likely to be impacted by the Company's ability to effectively address fuel price increases and fuel price volatility and availability.

Airlines are inherently dependent upon energy to operate, and jet fuel and oil represented approximately 14.4 percent of the Company's operating expenses for 2020. As discussed above under "Business - Cost Structure," although the airline industry experienced a relatively stable and moderate fuel environment in 2020, the cost of fuel can be extremely volatile and unpredictable, and even a small change in market fuel prices can significantly affect profitability. Furthermore, volatility in fuel prices can be due to many external factors that are beyond the Company's control. For example, fuel prices can be impacted by political, environmental, and economic factors, such as (i) dependency on foreign imports of crude oil and the potential for hostilities or other conflicts in oil producing areas; (ii) limitations and/or disruptions in domestic refining or pipeline capacity due to weather, natural disasters, or other factors; (iii) worldwide demand for fuel, particularly in developing countries, which can result in inflated energy prices; (iv) changes in U.S. governmental policies on fuel production, transportation, taxes, and marketing; and (v) changes in currency exchange rates.

The Company's ability to effectively mitigate the impact of fuel price increases could be limited by factors such as its historical low-fare reputation, the portion of its Customer base that purchases travel for leisure purposes, the competitive nature of the airline industry generally, and the risk that higher fares will drive a decrease in demand. The Company attempts to manage its risk associated with volatile jet fuel prices by utilizing over-the-counter fuel derivative instruments to hedge a portion of its future jet fuel purchases. However, energy prices can fluctuate significantly in a relatively short amount of time. Because the Company uses a variety of different derivative instruments at different price points, the Company is subject to the risk that the fuel derivatives it uses will not provide adequate protection against significant increases in fuel prices and in some cases could in fact result in
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hedging losses, which could result in the Company effectively paying higher than market prices for fuel, thus creating additional volatility in the Company's earnings.

In addition, the Company is subject to the risk that its fuel derivatives will no longer qualify for hedge accounting under applicable accounting standards, which can create additional earnings volatility. Adjustments in the Company's overall fuel hedging strategy, as well as the ability of the commodities used in fuel hedging to qualify for special hedge accounting, could continue to affect the Company's results of operations. In addition, there can be no assurance that the Company will be able to cost-effectively hedge against increases in fuel prices.

The Company's fuel hedging arrangements and the various potential impacts of hedge accounting on the Company's financial position, cash flows, and results of operations are discussed in more detail under "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," "Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk," and in Note 1 and Note 11 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

The Company is also reliant upon the readily available supply and timely delivery of jet fuel to the airports that it serves. A disruption in that supply could present significant challenges to the Company's operations and could ultimately cause the cancellation of flights and/or the inability of the Company to provide service to a particular airport.

The Company's low-cost structure has historically been one of its primary competitive advantages, and many factors have affected and could continue to affect the Company's ability to control its costs.

The Company's low-cost structure has historically been one of its primary competitive advantages, as it has enabled it to offer low fares, drive traffic volume, grow market share, and, prior to 2020, protect profits; however, as has been the case for the Company, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Company's competitors to implement significant cost reduction measures. Competitor cost reduction measures such as accelerated fleet retirements, capacity cuts, and headcount reductions, could have a negative impact on the Company's relative cost position.

Even before the pandemic, the Company's low-cost position had been challenged by the significant growth of "Ultra-Low Cost Carriers" ("ULCCs"), which in some cases have surpassed the Company's cost advantage with larger aircraft, increased seat density, and lower wages. ULCCs have further introduced "unbundled" service offerings which appeal to price-sensitive travelers through promotion to consumers of an extremely low relative base fare for a seat, while separately charging for related services and products. In response, most major U.S. airlines began to offer expanded cabin segmentation fare products, such as "basic economy" and "premium economy" products. A basic economy product provides for a lower base fare to compete with a ULCC base fare, but may include significant additional restrictions on amenities such as seat assignments (including restrictions on group and family seating), order of boarding, checked baggage and use of overhead bin space, flight changes and refunds, and eligibility for upgrades. A "premium economy" fare targets consumers willing to pay a premium for certain amenities that were previously included in the carriers' base fare (e.g., more favorable seating locations in the main cabin). Also in response to competitive ULCC pricing, some carriers removed fare floors for certain routes, leading to a lower fare offering across the industry.

The Company's low-cost structure can also be negatively impacted by costs over which the Company has limited control. These include costs such as fuel, labor, airport, and regulatory compliance costs.

Jet fuel and oil constituted approximately 14.4 percent of the Company's operating expenses during 2020, and the Company's ability to control the cost of fuel is subject to the external factors discussed in the fifth Risk Factor above.

Salaries, wages, and benefits constituted approximately 52.9 percent of the Company's operating expenses during 2020. The Company's ability to control labor costs is limited by the terms of its collective-bargaining agreements, and this limited control has negatively impacted the Company's low-cost position, in particular in the context of the Company's cost reduction efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. As discussed further under "Management’s
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Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," the Company's unionized workforce, which makes up approximately 83 percent of its Employees, has had pay scale increases as a result of contractual rate increases, which has put pressure on the Company's labor costs. Additionally, as indicated above under "Business - Employees," the majority of Southwest's unionized Employee work groups, including its Pilots; Flight Attendants; Ramp, Operations, Provisioning, and Freight Agents; Customer Service Agents, Customer Representatives, and Source of Support Representatives; Aircraft Appearance Technicians; Dispatchers; and Meteorologists, are in unions currently in negotiations for labor agreements or have labor agreements that become amendable in 2021, which could result in additional pressure on the Company's low-cost structure.

As discussed above under "Business - Regulation," the airline industry is heavily regulated, and the Company's regulatory compliance costs are subject to potentially significant increases from time to time based on actions by regulatory agencies that are out of the Company's control. Additionally, because of airport infrastructure updates and other factors, the Company has experienced increased space rental rates at various airports in its network. Further, the Company cannot control decisions by other airlines to reduce their capacity. When this occurs, certain fixed airport costs are allocated among a fewer number of total flights, which can result in increased landing fees and other costs for the Company.

The Company is reliant upon third party vendors and service providers, and the Company's low-cost advantage is dependent in part on its ability to obtain and maintain commercially reasonable terms with those parties. Disruptions to capital markets, shortages of skilled personnel, geopolitical developments, and/or adverse economic conditions could subject certain of the Company's third party vendors and service providers to significant financial pressures, which could lead to delays and other performance issues, ceased operations, or even bankruptcies among these third party vendors and service providers. If a third party vendor or service provider is unable to fulfill its commitments to the Company, the Company may be unable to replace that third party vendor or service provider in a short period of time, or at competitive terms, which could have a material adverse effect on the Company's results of operations.
As discussed above under "Business - Insurance," the Company carries insurance of types customary in the airline industry. Although the Company has been able to purchase aviation, property, liability, and professional insurance via the commercial insurance marketplace, available commercial insurance could be more expensive in the future and/or have material differences in coverage than insurance that has historically been provided and may not be adequate to protect against the Company's risk of loss from future events, including acts of terrorism. Further, available cyber-security insurance with regards to data protection and business interruption could be more expensive in the future and/or have material differences in coverage than insurance that has historically been provided and may not be adequate to protect the Company's risk of loss. With respect to any insurance claims, policy coverages and claims are subject to acceptance by the many insurers involved and may require arbitration and/or mediation to effectively settle the claims over prolonged periods of time. In addition, an accident or other incident involving Southwest aircraft could result in costs in excess of its related insurance coverage, which costs could be substantial. Any aircraft accident or other incident, even if fully insured, could also have a material adverse effect on the public's perception of the Company, which could harm its reputation and business.

As discussed below under "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," the Company experienced significant unit cost pressure in 2019 following the MAX groundings and in 2020 following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Historically, except for changes in the price of fuel, changes in operating expenses for airlines have been largely driven by changes in capacity. However, the Company's operating expenses are largely fixed once flight schedules are published; and the Company experienced lower than expected capacity during 2019 due to the MAX groundings and, in particular, during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company has made schedule adjustments and canceled flights based on consumer demand and booking trends. The continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to require the Company to make additional schedule adjustments and drive additional unit cost pressure.

The Company's results of operations could be adversely impacted if it is unable to effectively execute its strategic plans.

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The Company is reliant on the success of its revenue strategies and other strategic plans and initiatives to grow and to help offset increasing costs. The execution of the Company's strategic plans has been significantly negatively affected by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Company cannot predict the duration or scope of continued impacts from the pandemic. Nevertheless, the Company has taken multiple actions to bolster its liquidity and better optimize its network in an effort to position itself to opportunistically recover and grow if and as the pandemic subsides. The timely and effective execution of the Company's strategies is dependent upon, among other factors, (i) the Company's ability to effectively balance its investment of incremental operating expenses and capital expenditures related to its strategies against the need to effectively control costs; (ii) the Company's ability to timely and effectively implement, transition, and maintain related information technology systems and infrastructure; (iii) as discussed below, the Company’s ability to maintain satisfactory relations with its Employees or its Employees’ representatives; and (iv) the Company's dependence on third parties with respect to the execution of its strategic plans.

The airline industry is intensely competitive.

As discussed in more detail above under "Business - Competition," the airline industry is intensely competitive. The Company's primary competitors include other major domestic airlines, as well as regional and new entrant airlines, surface transportation, and alternatives to transportation such as videoconferencing, business communication platforms, and the Internet. The Company's revenues are sensitive to the actions of other carriers with respect to pricing, routes, loyalty programs, scheduling, capacity, customer service, operational reliability, comfort and amenities, cost structure, aircraft fleet, strategic alliances, and code-sharing and similar activities.

Information Technology Risks

The Company is increasingly dependent on technology to operate its business and continues to implement substantial changes to its information systems; any failure, disruption, breach, or delay in implementation of the Company's information systems could materially adversely affect its operations.

The Company is increasingly dependent on the use of complex technology and systems to run its ongoing operations and support its strategic objectives. These technologies and systems include, among others, the Company's website and reservation system; flight dispatch and tracking systems; flight simulators; check-in kiosks; aircraft maintenance, planning, and record keeping systems; telecommunications systems; flight planning and scheduling systems; crew scheduling systems; human resources systems; and financial planning, management, and accounting systems. The performance, reliability, and security of the Company's technology infrastructure and supporting systems are critical to the Company's operations and initiatives.

Implementation and integration of complex systems and technology present significant challenges in terms of costs, human resources, and development of effective internal controls. Implementation and integration require a balancing between the introduction of new capabilities and the managing of existing systems, and present the risk of operational or security inadequacy or interruption, which could materially affect the Company's ability to effectively operate its business and/or could negatively impact the Company's results of operations.

The Company is also reliant upon the performance of its third party vendors for timely and effective implementation and support of many of its technology initiatives and for maintaining adequate information security measures within the services and/or software they deliver. If any of the Company's significant technologies or automated systems were to cease functioning, or if its third party vendor service providers were to fail to adequately and timely provide technical support, system maintenance, security, or software upgrades for any of the Company's existing systems, the Company could experience service interruptions, delays, and loss of critical data, which could harm its operations, and result in financial losses and reputational damage.

In the ordinary course of business, the Company's systems will continue to require modification and refinements to address growth and changing business requirements. In addition, the Company's systems may require modification to enable the Company to comply with changing regulatory requirements. Modifications and refinements to the
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Company's systems have been and are expected to continue to be expensive to implement and can divert management’s attention from other matters. In particular, during 2020, in connection with the Company's efforts to reduce capital and operating expenditures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company deferred a significant number of technology projects. In addition, the Company's operations could be adversely affected, or the Company could face imposition of regulatory penalties, if it were unable to timely or effectively modify its systems as necessary or appropriately balance the introduction of new capabilities with the management of existing systems.

The Company has experienced system interruptions and delays that have made its websites and operational systems unavailable or slow to respond, which has prevented the Company from efficiently processing Customer transactions or providing services. Any future system interruptions or delays could reduce the Company's operating revenues and the attractiveness of its services, as well as increase the Company's costs.

The Company's technologies and systems and functions could be damaged or interrupted by catastrophic events beyond its control such as fires, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, power loss, computer and telecommunications failures, acts of war or terrorism, computer viruses, security breaches, and similar events or disruptions. Any of these events could cause system interruptions, delays, and loss of critical data, and could prevent the Company from processing Customer transactions or providing services, which could make the Company's business and services less attractive and subject the Company to liability. Any of these events could damage the Company's reputation and be expensive to remedy.

Developing and expanding data security and privacy requirements could increase the Company's operating costs, and any failure of the Company to maintain the security of certain Customer, Employee, and business-related information could result in damage to the Company's reputation and could be costly to remediate.

The Company must receive information related to its Customers and Employees in order to run its business, and the Company's operations depend upon secure retention and the secure transmission of information over public networks, including information permitting cashless payments. This information is subject to the continually evolving risk of intrusion, tampering, and theft. Although the Company maintains systems to prevent or defend against these risks, these systems require ongoing monitoring and updating as technologies change, and security could be compromised, personal or confidential information could be misappropriated, or system disruptions could occur. In the ordinary course of its business, the Company also provides certain confidential, proprietary, and personal information to third parties. While the Company seeks to obtain assurances that these third parties will protect this information, there is a risk the security of data held by third parties could be breached. A compromise of the Company's security systems could adversely affect the Company's reputation and disrupt its operations and could also result in litigation against the Company or the imposition of penalties. In addition, it could be costly to remediate. Although the Company has not experienced cyber incidents that are individually, or in the aggregate, material, the Company has experienced cyber-attacks in the past, which have thus far been mitigated by preventative, detective, and responsive measures put in place by the Company.

In addition, in response to these types of threats, there has been heightened legislative and regulatory focus on data privacy and security in the United States and elsewhere. As a result, the Company must monitor a growing and fast-evolving set of legal requirements in this area. This regulatory environment is increasingly challenging and may present material obligations and risks to the Company's business, including significantly expanded compliance requirements, costs, and enforcement risks.

The Company has a dedicated cyber-security team and program that focuses on current and emerging data security matters. The Company continues to assess and invest in the growing needs of the cyber-security team through the allocation of skilled personnel, ongoing training, and support of the adoption and implementation of technologies coupled with cyber-security risk management frameworks.

During the majority of 2020, and continuing into 2021, the Company has offered the ability to work remotely to most of the Company's office and clerical Employees, including the vast majority of its Employees at the Company's headquarters campus. Maintaining a remote work force significantly increases the risk of cyber incidents
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and events, such as computer viruses and security breaches, due to increased targeted attacks, which have thus far been mitigated by preventative, detective, and responsive measures put in place by the Company.

The Company carries a cyber-security insurance policy with regards to data protection and business interruption associated with both security breaches from malicious parties and from certain system failures. However, available cyber-security insurance with regards to data protection and business interruption could be more expensive in the future and/or have material differences in coverage than insurance that has historically been provided and may not be adequate to protect the Company's risk of loss.

Operational Risks

The Company's business is labor intensive; therefore, the Company could be materially adversely affected in the event of conflict with its Employees or its Employees' representatives.

The airline business is labor intensive, and for the year ended December 31, 2020, Salaries, wages, and benefits expense represented approximately 52.9 percent of the Company's operating expenses. As discussed further under "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," and Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, to address the financial impacts of the COVID pandemic, the Company instituted voluntary separation and extended time off programs to mitigate costs. In addition, during 2020, the Company notified its non-unionized Employees of impending mandatory pay cuts, which have been avoided due to the Company’s receipt of additional payroll support funds from Treasury under the Payroll Support Program Extension. The Company also sought equivalent wage and/or work rule concessions from its Employees represented for collective bargaining purposes by labor unions. As of December 31, 2020, approximately 83 percent of the Company's Employees were represented for collective bargaining purposes by labor unions, and because the Company was unable to obtain requested concessions from most of its unionized work groups, it sent furlough notices to the Employees in these work groups. These notices were also rescinded as a result of the Company’s receipt of additional payroll support funds from Treasury under the Payroll Support Program Extension. Because of the percentage of its Employees represented for collective bargaining purposes by labor unions, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company was already particularly exposed in the event of labor-related job actions. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the Company’s exposure and demonstrated the risk that the Company’s results could be materially adversely affected in the event of conflicts with its Employees or its Employees’ representatives.

The Company is currently dependent on a single engine supplier, as well as single suppliers of certain other aircraft parts and equipment; therefore, the Company could be materially adversely affected (i) if it were unable to obtain timely or sufficient delivery of aircraft parts or equipment from Boeing or other suppliers or adequate maintenance or other support from any of these suppliers, or (ii) in the event of a mechanical or regulatory issue associated with the Company's aircraft parts or equipment.

The Company is dependent on Boeing as its sole supplier for many of its aircraft parts. The Company is also dependent on sole or limited suppliers for aircraft engines and certain other aircraft parts, equipment, and services. If Boeing, or other suppliers, were unable or unwilling to timely provide adequate products or support for their products, or in the event of a mechanical or regulatory issue associated with engines or other parts, the Company's operations could be materially adversely affected. The Company could also be materially adversely affected if the pricing or operational attributes of its aircraft equipment were to become less competitive.

The airline industry has faced on-going security concerns and related cost burdens; further threatened or actual terrorist attacks, or other hostilities, even if not made directly on the airline industry, could significantly harm the airline industry and the Company's operations.

Terrorist attacks or other crimes and hostilities, actual and threatened, have from time to time materially adversely affected the demand for air travel and also have necessitated increased safety and security measures and related costs for the Company and the airline industry generally. Safety and security measures can create delays and
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inconveniences, which in turn can reduce the Company's competitiveness against surface transportation for short-haul routes and alternatives to transportation such as videoconferencing, business communication platforms, and the Internet. Additional terrorist attacks or other hostilities, even if not made directly on the airline industry, or the fear of such attacks or other hostilities (including elevated national threat warnings, government travel warnings to certain destinations, travel restrictions, or selective cancellation or redirection of flights due to terror threats) would likely have a further significant negative impact on the Company and the airline industry.

The airline industry is affected by many conditions that are beyond its control, which can impact the Company's business strategies and results of operations.

In addition to the unpredictable economic conditions and fuel costs discussed above, the Company, like the airline industry in general, is affected by conditions that are largely unforeseeable and outside of its control, including, among others:

adverse weather and natural disasters;
changes in consumer preferences, perceptions, spending patterns, or demographic trends (including, without limitation, changes in travel patterns due to government shutdowns or sequestration);
actual or potential disruptions in the air traffic control system (including, for example, as a result of inadequate FAA staffing levels due to government shutdowns or sequestration);
actual or perceived delays at various airports resulting from government shutdowns (including, for example, longer wait-times at TSA checkpoints due to inadequate TSA staffing levels);
changes in the competitive environment due to industry consolidation, industry bankruptcies, and other factors;
delays in deliveries of new aircraft (including, without limitation, due to FAA groundings of certain aircraft types or due to the closure of the FAA's aircraft registry during government shutdowns);
outbreaks of disease such as the COVID-19 pandemic; and
actual or threatened war, terrorist attacks, government travel warnings to certain destinations, travel restrictions, and political instability.

Legal, Regulatory, Compliance, and Reputational Risks

The Company is subject to extensive FAA regulation that may necessitate modifications to the Company’s operations, business plans, and strategies.

The FAA promulgates and enforces regulations affecting the airline industry, and exercises extensive regulatory oversight of the Company’s operations. The FAA from time to time also issues orders or directives relating to the maintenance and operation of aircraft. FAA orders and directives can be issued with little or no notice, and in certain instances, require the temporary grounding of aircraft and/or the responsive investment of operational and financial resources. The issuance of new FAA regulations, regulatory amendments, or orders or directives could result in flight schedule adjustments and groundings or delays in aircraft deliveries, as well as lower operating revenues, operating income, and net income due to a variety of factors, including, among others, (i) lost revenue due to flight cancellations and disruptions as a result of a smaller operating aircraft fleet, (ii) the lack of ability to make corresponding reductions in expenses because of the fixed nature of many expenses, and (iii) possible negative effects on Customer confidence and airline choice. Government regulation affecting the Company is discussed in more detail in the below risk factor and above under “Business - Regulation.”

Airport capacity constraints and air traffic control inefficiencies have limited and could continue to limit the Company's growth; changes in or additional governmental regulation could increase the Company's operating costs or otherwise limit the Company's ability to conduct business.

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Almost all commercial service airports are owned and/or operated by units of local or state governments. Airlines are largely dependent on these governmental entities to provide adequate airport facilities and capacity at an affordable cost. In order to operate efficiently, as well as to add service in current and new markets, the Company must be able to maintain and/or obtain space and facilities at desirable airports with adequate infrastructure. Airport space, facility, and infrastructure constraints may prevent the Company from maintaining existing service and/or implementing new service in a commercially viable manner.

Similarly, the federal government singularly controls all U.S. airspace, and airlines are dependent on the FAA controlling that airspace in a safe and efficient manner. The current air traffic control system is mainly radar-based, supported in large part by antiquated equipment and technologies, and heavily dependent on skilled personnel. As a result, the air traffic control system may not be able to effectively keep pace with future air traffic growth. The FAA's protracted transition to modernized air traffic control systems and newer technologies could adversely impact airspace capacity and the overall efficiency of the system, resulting in limited opportunities for the Company to grow, longer scheduled flight times, increased delays and cancellations, and increased fuel consumption and aircraft emissions. The continuation of these air traffic control constraints or the FAA's inability to meet staffing needs on a long-term basis may have a material adverse effect on the Company's operations.

As discussed above under "Business - Regulation," airlines are also subject to other extensive regulatory requirements. These requirements often impose substantial costs on airlines. The Company's strategic plans and results of operations could be negatively affected by changes in law and future actions taken by domestic and foreign governmental agencies having jurisdiction over its operations, including, but not limited to:

increases in airport rates and charges;
limitations on airport gate capacity or use of other airport facilities;
limitations on route authorities;
actions and decisions that create difficulties in obtaining access at slot-controlled airports;
actions and decisions that create difficulties in obtaining operating permits and approvals;
changes to environmental regulations;
new or increased taxes or fees, including with respect to potential increases to the federal corporate income tax rate;
changes to laws that affect the services that can be offered by airlines in particular markets and at particular airports;
restrictions on competitive practices;
changes in laws that increase costs for safety, security, compliance, or other Customer Service standards;
changes in laws that may limit the Company's ability to enter into fuel derivative contracts to hedge against increases in fuel prices;
changes in laws that may limit or regulate the Company's ability to promote the Company’s business or fares;
airspace closures or restrictions;
grounding of commercial air traffic by the FAA; and
the adoption of more restrictive locally-imposed noise regulations.

The Company is subject to various environmental requirements, including laws and regulations related to climate change and emissions. Compliance with new or existing environmental requirements could materially and adversely affect the Company's business plans, strategies, and results of operations.

The Company is subject to federal, state, local, and international laws and regulations relating to the protection of the environment, including those relating to aircraft and ground-based emissions, discharges to water systems, safe drinking water, and the management of hazardous substances and waste materials. Certain legislative bodies and regulatory authorities are increasingly focused on climate change and have taken actions to implement additional
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laws, regulations, and programs intended to protect the environment. For example, as discussed in more detail under “Business – Regulation,” the federal government, as well as several state and local governments, the governments of other countries, and the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization have implemented legislative and regulatory proposals and voluntary measures intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Compliance with laws, regulations, and other programs intended to reduce emissions or otherwise protect the environment may require the Company to modify its supply chain practices, secure carbon offset credits or otherwise pay for emissions, or make capital investments to modify certain aspects of its operations. Future policy, legal, and regulatory developments relating to the protection of the environment could increase the Company’s costs and have a material adverse effect on the Company’s plans and operations.

The Company's future results will suffer if it is unable to effectively manage its expanded international operations and/or Extended Operations ("ETOPS").

The Company's international flight offerings are subject to CBP-mandated procedures, which can affect the Company's operations, costs, and Customer experience. The Company has made significant investments in facilities, equipment, and technologies at certain airports in order to improve the Customer experience and to assist CBP with its inspection and processing duties; however, the Company is not able to predict the impact, if any, that various CBP measures or the lack of CBP resources will have on Company revenues and costs, either in the short-term or the long-term.

International flying requires the Company to modify certain processes, as the airport environment is dramatically different in certain international locations with respect to, among other things, common-use ticket counters and gate areas, passenger entry requirements (including health requirements imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic), local operating requirements, and cultural preferences. Certain international routes served by the Company are also subject to specific aircraft equipage requirements and unique consumer behavior. Route-specific equipage requirements and unique consumer behavior, together or individually, may (i) restrict the Company's flexibility when scheduling and routing aircraft and crews; (ii) require the Company to modify its policies or procedures; and (iii) impact the Company's operational performance, costs, and Customer Experience. In addition, international flying exposes the Company to certain foreign currency risks to the extent the Company chooses to, or is required to, transact in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. To the extent the Company seeks to serve additional international destinations in the future, or to renew its authority to serve certain routes, it may be required to obtain necessary authority from the DOT and/or approvals from the FAA, as well as any applicable foreign government entity.

The Company's operations in non-U.S. jurisdictions may subject the Company to the laws of those jurisdictions rather than, or in addition to, U.S. laws. Laws in some jurisdictions differ in significant respects from those in the United States, and these differences can affect the Company's ability to react to changes in its business, and its rights or ability to enforce rights may be different than would be expected under U.S. laws. Furthermore, enforcement of laws in some jurisdictions can be inconsistent and unpredictable, which can affect both the Company's ability to enforce its rights and to undertake activities that it believes are beneficial to its business. As a result, the Company's ability to generate revenue and its expenses in non-U.S. jurisdictions may differ from what would be expected if U.S. laws governed these operations. Although the Company has policies and procedures in place that are designed to promote compliance with the laws of the jurisdictions in which it operates, a violation by the Company's Employees, contractors, or agents or other intermediaries could nonetheless occur. Any violation (or alleged or perceived violation), even if prohibited by the Company's policies, could have an adverse effect on the Company's reputation and/or its results of operations.

In 2019, the Company began service to Hawaii after receiving approval from the FAA for ETOPS, a regulatory requirement to operate between the U.S. mainland and the Hawaiian Islands. The Company is subject to additional, ongoing, ETOPS-specific regulatory and procedural requirements, which present operational and compliance risks to the Company’s business, including costs associated therewith.

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The Company is currently subject to pending litigation, and if judgment were to be rendered against the Company in the litigation, such judgment could adversely affect the Company's operating results.

As discussed below under "Legal Proceedings," the Company is subject to pending litigation.

Regardless of merit, these litigation matters and any potential future claims against the Company may be both time consuming and disruptive to the Company's operations and cause significant expense and diversion of management attention. Should the Company fail to prevail in these or other matters, the Company may be faced with significant monetary damages or injunctive relief that could materially adversely affect its business and might materially affect its financial condition and operating results and could cause reputational harm.

The Company’s reputation and brand could be harmed if it were to experience significant negative publicity, including through social media.

The Company operates in a public-facing industry with significant exposure to social media. Negative publicity, whether or not justified, can spread rapidly through social media. To the extent that the Company is unable to respond timely and appropriately to negative publicity, the Company’s reputation and brand can be harmed. Damage to the Company’s overall reputation and brand could have a negative impact on its financial results.

The Company’s Bylaws provide, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, that the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas or, if such court lacks jurisdiction, the state district court of Dallas County, Texas, will be the exclusive forum for certain legal actions between the Company and its Shareholders, which could increase costs to bring a claim, discourage claims, or limit the ability of the Company’s Shareholders to bring a claim in a judicial forum viewed by the Shareholders as more favorable for disputes with the Company or the Company’s directors, officers, or other Employees.

The Company’s Bylaws provide, to the fullest extent permitted by law, that, unless the Company consents in writing to the selection of an alternative forum, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas or, if such court lacks jurisdiction, the state district court of Dallas County, Texas, will, to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law, be the sole and exclusive forum for (a) any derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of the Company; (b) any action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer, or other Employee of the Company to the Company or the Company’s Shareholders; (c) any action asserting a claim against the Company or any director, officer, or other Employee of the Company pursuant to any provision of the Company’s Restated Certificate of Formation or Bylaws (as either may be amended from time to time) or the Texas Business Organizations Code; and (d) any action asserting a claim against the Company or any director, officer, or other Employee of the Company governed by the internal affairs doctrine.

The forum selection provision may increase costs to bring a claim, discourage claims, or limit a Shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that such Shareholder finds favorable for disputes with the Company or the Company’s directors, officers, or other Employees, which may discourage such lawsuits against the Company or the Company’s directors, officers, and other Employees. Alternatively, if a court were to find the forum selection provision contained in the Company’s Bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, the Company could incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions. The exclusive forum provision in the Bylaws will not preclude or contract the scope of exclusive federal or concurrent jurisdiction for actions brought under the federal securities laws including the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 or the Securities Act of 1933, or the respective rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

Item 1B.    Unresolved Staff Comments
None.
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Item 2.        Properties
Aircraft
Southwest operated a total of 718 Boeing 737 aircraft as of December 31, 2020, of which 67 and 70 were under operating and finance leases, respectively. The following table details information on the 718 aircraft as of December 31, 2020:
TypeSeatsAverage
Age
(Yrs)
Number of
Aircraft
Number
Owned (a)
Number
Leased
737-70014316 470 370 100 
737-800175207 190 17 
737 MAX 817541 21 20 
Totals12 718 581 137 
 
(a)As discussed further in Note 7 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, 106 of the Company's aircraft were pledged as collateral as of December 31, 2020, for secured borrowings.

All MAX deliveries were suspended as of March 13, 2019, upon the FAA emergency order for all U.S. airlines to ground all MAX aircraft. The Company reached an agreement with Boeing in December 2020 to begin taking delivery of the delayed MAX aircraft, and received seven new leased 737 MAX 8 aircraft from third parties in December 2020. Including the seven leased MAX aircraft received in December 2020, the Company expects to receive 35 MAX 8 deliveries, including 16 leased aircraft, through the end of 2021.

The delivery schedule below reflects existing contractual commitments, although the timing of future deliveries is uncertain. The Company and Boeing are in discussions to change the Company's aircraft order book, and the Company expects to make further adjustments to the delivery schedule. The Company offers no assurances that current estimations and timelines will not be changed.

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As of December 31, 2020, the Company had firm deliveries and options for Boeing 737 MAX 7 and 737 MAX 8 aircraft as follows:
The Boeing Company
MAX 7
Firm Orders
MAX 8
Firm Orders
MAX 8 OptionsAdditional MAX 8sTotal
2021100 — 16 123 (a)
2022— 27 14 — 41 
202312 22 23 — 57 
202411 30 23 — 64 
2025— 40 36 — 76 
2026— — 19 — 19 
30 219 (b)115 16 (c)380 

(a) 2021 Contractual Detail
The Boeing Company
MAX 7
Firm Orders
MAX 8
Firm Orders
Additional MAX 8sTotal
2019 Contractual Deliveries20 13 40 
2020 Contractual Deliveries— 35 38 
2021 Contractual Deliveries— 45 — 45 
2021 Contractual Total100 16 123 

The 2021 combined contractual total includes 40 contractual aircraft that the Company expected to be delivered in 2019, but were not received due to the MAX groundings, and 38 contractual aircraft expected in 2020. The Company reached an agreement with Boeing in December 2020 to begin taking delivery of the delayed MAX aircraft, and received seven of these new leased 737 MAX 8 aircraft from third parties in December 2020. Including the seven leased MAX aircraft received in December 2020, the Company expects to receive 35 MAX 8 deliveries, including 16 leased aircraft, through the end of 2021, instead of the 123 shown above. The Company continues to be in discussions with Boeing to restructure its delivery schedule for the MAX aircraft. The schedule reflects one contractual aircraft delivery that shifted from 2019 to 2021.
(b) The Company has flexibility to substitute 737 MAX 7 in lieu of 737 MAX 8 firm orders, upon written advance notification as stated in the contract.
(c) To be acquired in leases from various third parties.

Ground Facilities and Services

Southwest either leases or pays a usage fee for terminal passenger service facilities at each of the airports it serves, to which various leasehold improvements have been made. The Company leases the land and/or structures on a long-term basis for its aircraft maintenance centers (located at Dallas Love Field, Houston Hobby, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Chicago Midway, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Orlando International Airport) and its main corporate headquarters building, also located near Dallas Love Field. The Company also leases a warehouse and engine repair facility in Atlanta. In 2019, the Company announced its intent to build a new aircraft maintenance facility, scheduled to be completed in first quarter 2022, at Denver International Airport.

The Company has commitments associated with various airport improvement projects, including ongoing construction at Los Angeles International Airport. These projects include the construction of new facilities and the rebuilding or modernization of existing facilities. Additional information regarding these projects is provided below under "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and in Note 5 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

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The Company owns two additional headquarters buildings, located across the street from the Company's main headquarters building, on land owned by the Company including (a) an energy-efficient, modern building, called TOPS, which houses certain operational and training functions, including the Company's 24-hour operations and (b) the Wings Complex, completed in 2018, consisting of a Leadership Education and Aircrew Development (LEAD) Center (housing 18 of the Company's 24 Boeing 737 flight simulators and classroom space for Pilot training), an additional office building, and a parking garage. Construction was recently completed on an expansion of the LEAD Center. Once the expansion of the LEAD Center is operational, the LEAD Center will have overall space for a total of 26 Boeing 737 flight simulators.

As of December 31, 2020, the Company operated seven Customer Support and Services call centers. The centers located in Atlanta, San Antonio, Chicago, Albuquerque, and Oklahoma City occupy leased space. The Company owns its Houston and Phoenix centers.

The Company performs substantially all line maintenance on its aircraft and provides ground support services at most of the airports it serves. However, the Company has arrangements with certain aircraft maintenance providers for major component inspections and repairs for its airframes and engines, which comprise the majority of the Company's annual aircraft maintenance costs.

Item 3.        Legal Proceedings

On June 30, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ") issued a Civil Investigative Demand ("CID") to the Company. The CID seeks information and documents about the Company’s capacity from January 2010 to the date of the CID, including public statements and communications with third parties about capacity. In June 2015, the Company also received a letter from the Connecticut Attorney General requesting information about capacity. The Company is cooperating fully with the DOJ CID and the state inquiry.

Further, on July 1, 2015, a complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of putative classes of consumers alleging collusion among the Company, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines to limit capacity and maintain higher fares in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act. Since then, a number of similar class action complaints were filed in the United States District Courts for the Central District of California, the Northern District of California, the District of Columbia, the Middle District of Florida, the Southern District of Florida, the Northern District of Georgia, the Northern District of Illinois, the Southern District of Indiana, the Eastern District of Louisiana, the District of Minnesota, the District of New Jersey, the Eastern District of New York, the Southern District of New York, the Middle District of North Carolina, the District of Oklahoma, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Northern District of Texas, the District of Vermont, and the Eastern District of Wisconsin. On October 13, 2015, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation centralized the cases to the United States District Court in the District of Columbia. On March 25, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a Consolidated Amended Complaint in the consolidated cases alleging that the defendants conspired to restrict capacity from 2009 to present. The plaintiffs seek to bring their claims on behalf of a class of persons who purchased tickets for domestic airline travel on the defendants' airlines from July 1, 2011 to present. They seek treble damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees and expenses. On May 11, 2016, the defendants moved to dismiss the Consolidated Amended Complaint, and on October 28, 2016, the Court denied this motion. On December 20, 2017, the Company reached an agreement to settle these cases with a proposed class of all persons who purchased domestic airline transportation services from July 1, 2011, to the date of the settlement. The Company agreed to pay $15 million and to provide certain cooperation with the plaintiffs as set forth in the settlement agreement. After notice was provided to the settlement class, the Court held a fairness hearing on March 22, 2019, and it issued an order granting final approval of the settlement on May 9, 2019. On June 10, 2019, three objectors filed notices of appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Two sets of the objectors dismissed their appeals, and the appeal of the remaining objectors is pending. The case is continuing as to the remaining defendants. The Company denies all allegations of wrongdoing.

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On July 11, 2019, a complaint alleging violations of federal and state laws and seeking certification as a class action was filed against Boeing and the Company in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Sherman. The complaint alleges that Boeing and the Company colluded to conceal defects with the MAX aircraft in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act ("RICO") and also asserts related state law claims based upon the same alleged facts. The complaint seeks damages on behalf of putative classes of customers who purchased tickets for air travel from either the Company or American Airlines between August 29, 2017, and March 13, 2019. The complaint generally seeks money damages, equitable monetary relief, injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and attorneys’ fees and other costs. On September 13, 2019, the Company filed a motion to dismiss the complaint and to strike certain class allegations. Boeing also moved to dismiss. On February 14, 2020, the trial court issued a ruling that granted in part and denied in part the motions to dismiss the complaint. The trial court order, among other things: (i) dismissed without prejudice various state law claims that the plaintiffs abandoned in response to the motions, (ii) dismissed with prejudice the remaining state law claims, including fraud by concealment, fraud by misrepresentation, and negligent misrepresentation on the grounds that federal law preempts those claims, and (iii) found that plaintiffs lack Article III standing to pursue one of the plaintiffs’ theories of RICO injury. The order denied the motion to dismiss with respect to two RICO claims premised upon a second theory of RICO injury and denied the motion to strike the class allegations at the pleadings stage. Discovery is ongoing, and class certification briefing is currently underway. The Company denies all allegations of wrongdoing, including those in the complaint that were not dismissed, and intends to vigorously oppose certification of any class. The Company believes the plaintiffs' positions are without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself.

On February 19, 2020, a complaint alleging violations of federal securities laws and seeking certification as a class action was filed against the Company and certain of its officers in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas. A lead plaintiff has been appointed in the case, and an amended complaint was filed on July 2, 2020. The amended complaint seeks damages on behalf of a putative class of persons who purchased the Company’s common stock between February 7, 2017, and January 29, 2020. The amended complaint asserts claims under Sections 10(b) and 20 of the Securities Exchange Act and alleges that the Company made material misstatements to investors regarding the Company’s safety and maintenance practices and its compliance with federal regulations and requirements. The amended complaint generally seeks money damages, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees and other costs. On August 17, 2020, the Company and the individual defendants filed a motion to dismiss. On October 1, 2020, the lead plaintiff filed a response in opposition to the motion to dismiss. The Company filed a reply on or about October 21, 2020, such that the motion is now fully briefed. The Company denies all allegations of wrongdoing, including those in the amended complaint. The Company believes the plaintiffs' positions are without merit and intends to vigorously defend itself.

On June 22, 2020, a derivative action for breach of fiduciary duty was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas naming the members of the Company's Board of Directors as defendants and the Company as a nominal defendant (the "Derivative Action"). The plaintiff alleges unspecified damage to Company’s reputation, goodwill, and standing in the community, as well as damage from exposure to civil and regulatory liability and defense costs. According to the lawsuit, these damages arise from the Company’s alleged failure to comply with safety and record maintenance regulations and false statements in public filings regarding the Company’s safety practices. The plaintiff alleges the Board, in the absence of good faith, exhibited reckless disregard for its duties of oversight. On October 7, 2020, the Court entered an order staying and administratively closing the Derivative Action. The plaintiff in the Derivative Action shall have the right to reopen the action following the resolution of the Company's motion to dismiss in the ongoing litigation brought under the federal securities laws or upon the occurrence of certain other conditions. The Board and Company deny all allegations of wrongdoing made in the Derivative Action.

The Company is from time to time subject to various legal proceedings and claims arising in the ordinary course of business, including, but not limited to, examinations by the Internal Revenue Service.

The Company’s management does not expect that the outcome in any of its currently ongoing legal proceedings or the outcome of any proposed adjustments presented to date by the Internal Revenue Service, individually or
44


collectively, will have a material adverse effect on the Company’s financial condition, results of operations, or cash flow.

Item 4.     Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

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INFORMATION ABOUT OUR EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
The following information regarding the Company’s executive officers is as of February 3, 2021.
 
NamePositionAge
Gary C. KellyChairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer65
Thomas M. NealonPresident60
Michael G. Van de VenChief Operating Officer59
Robert E. JordanExecutive Vice President Corporate Services60
Alan KasherExecutive Vice President Daily Operations54
Tammy RomoExecutive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer58
Mark R. ShawExecutive Vice President & Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer58
Andrew M. WattersonExecutive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer54
Gregory D. WellsRetiring Executive Vice President Daily Operations62

Set forth below is a description of the background of each of the Company’s executive officers.

Gary C. Kelly has served as the Company's Chairman of the Board since May 2008 and as its Chief Executive Officer since July 2004. Mr. Kelly also served as President from July 2008 to January 2017, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer from June 2001 to July 2004, and Vice President Finance & Chief Financial Officer from 1989 to 2001. Mr. Kelly joined the Company in 1986 as its Controller.

Thomas M. Nealon has served as the Company's President since January 2017. Mr. Nealon also served as Executive Vice President Strategy & Innovation from January 2016 to January 2017. Prior to becoming an executive officer of the Company, Mr. Nealon served on the Company’s Board of Directors from December 2010 until November 2015. Mr. Nealon has also served as Group Executive Vice President of J.C. Penney Company, Inc., a retail company, from August 2010 until December 2011. In this role Mr. Nealon was responsible for Strategy, jcp.com, Information Technology, Customer Insights, and Digital Ventures. Mr. Nealon also served as J.C. Penney’s Executive Vice President & Chief Information Officer from September 2006 until August 2010. Prior to joining J.C. Penney, Mr. Nealon was a partner with The Feld Group, a provider of information technology consulting services, where he served in a consultant capacity as Senior Vice President & Chief Information Officer for the Company from 2002 to 2006. Mr. Nealon also served as Chief Information Officer for Frito-Lay, a division of PepsiCo, Inc., from 1996 to 2000, and in various software engineering, systems engineering, and management positions for Frito-Lay from 1983 to 1996.

Michael G. Van de Ven has served as the Company's Chief Operating Officer since May 2008. Mr. Van de Ven also served as Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer from May 2008 to January 2017, Chief of Operations from September 2006 to May 2008, Executive Vice President Aircraft Operations from November 2005 through August 2006, Senior Vice President Planning from August 2004 to November 2005, Vice President Financial Planning & Analysis from 2001 to 2004, Senior Director Financial Planning & Analysis from 2000 to 2001, and Director Financial Planning & Analysis from 1997 to 2000. Mr. Van de Ven joined the Company in 1993 as its Director Internal Audit.

Robert E. Jordan has served as the Company's Executive Vice President Corporate Services since July 2017. Mr. Jordan also served as Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer from September 2011 to July 2017, Executive Vice President Strategy & Planning from May 2008 to September 2011, Executive Vice President Strategy & Technology from September 2006 to May 2008, Senior Vice President Enterprise Spend Management from August 2004 to September 2006, Vice President Technology from 2002 to 2004, Vice President Purchasing from 2001 to 2002, Controller from 1997 to 2001, Director Revenue Accounting from 1994 to 1997, and Manager Sales Accounting from 1990 to 1994. Mr. Jordan joined the Company in 1988 as a programmer.

Alan Kasher has served as the Company’s Executive Vice President Daily Operations since February 2021. Mr. Kasher also served as Senior Vice President Air Operations from January 2020 to February 2021, Vice President
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Flight Operations from November 2015 to January 2020, Managing Director Regulatory Programs & Compliance from February 2015 to November 2015, Director of Operations from February 2013 to February 2015, and Assistant Director of Operations from April 2012 to February 2013. Mr. Kasher joined the Company in September 2000 as a First Officer and was promoted to Captain in April 2007.

Tammy Romo has served as the Company's Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer since July 2015. Ms. Romo also served as Senior Vice President Finance & Chief Financial Officer from September 2012 to July 2015, Senior Vice President of Planning from February 2010 to September 2012, Vice President of Financial Planning from September 2008 to February 2010, Vice President Controller from February 2006 to August 2008, Vice President Treasurer from September 2004 to February 2006, Senior Director of Investor Relations from March 2002 to September 2004, Director of Investor Relations from December 1994 to March 2002, Manager of Investor Relations from September 1994 to December 1994, and Manager of Financial Reporting from September 1991 to September 1994.

Mark R. Shaw has served as the Company's Executive Vice President & Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer since November 2018. Mr. Shaw also served as Executive Vice President, Chief Legal & Regulatory Officer, & Corporate Secretary from August 2018 to November 2018, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, & Corporate Secretary from July 2015 to August 2018, Vice President, General Counsel, & Corporate Secretary from February 2013 to July 2015, and as Associate General Counsel - Corporate & Transactions from February 2008 to February 2013. Mr. Shaw joined the Company in 2000 as an Attorney in the General Counsel Department.

Andrew M. Watterson has served as the Company's Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer since January 2020. Mr. Watterson also served as Executive Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer from July 2017 to January 2020, Senior Vice President & Chief Revenue Officer from January 2017 to July 2017, Senior Vice President of Network & Revenue from January 2016 to January 2017, and as Vice President of Network Planning & Performance from October 2013 to January 2016.

Gregory D. Wells has served as the Company's Executive Vice President Daily Operations since January 2017. Mr. Wells also served as Senior Vice President Operational Performance from October 2013 to January 2017, Senior Vice President Operations from September 2006 to October 2013, Senior Vice President Ground Operations from November 2005 to September 2006, Vice President Ground Operations from September 2004 to November 2005, Vice President Safety, Security, and Flight Dispatch from October 2001 to September 2004, Director Flight Dispatch from February 1999 to October 2001, Senior Director Ground Operations from August 1998 to February 1999, and Director Ground Operations from August 1996 to August 1998. Prior to August 1996, Mr. Wells had various other operational experience with the Company including as Station Manager in both San Jose and Phoenix. Mr. Wells has over 38 years of experience with the Company. Mr. Wells is retiring from his Executive Vice President position effective March 1, 2021.

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PART II

Item 5.        Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters, and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

The Company’s common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange ("NYSE") and is traded under the symbol "LUV." Although the Company has a history of declaring dividends on a quarterly basis, the Company has not paid a dividend since its 174th consecutive quarterly dividend which was declared and paid in first quarter 2020. Pursuant to the Payroll Support Program under the CARES Act, as supplemented by the Payroll Support Program Extension, the Company is prohibited from paying dividends with respect to its common stock through March 31, 2022. Following the expiration of CARES Act and Payroll Support Program Extension restrictions, the Company’s Board of Directors will have sole discretion regarding the timing, amount, and payment of dividends on the basis of operational results, financial condition, cash requirements, future prospects, and other factors deemed relevant by the Board. As of February 4, 2021, there were approximately 11,858 holders of record of the Company’s common stock.

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Stock Performance Graph

The following Performance Graph and related information shall not be deemed "soliciting material" or "filed" with the Securities and Exchange Commission, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The following graph compares the cumulative total shareholder return on the Company’s common stock over the five-year period ended December 31, 2020, with the cumulative total return during such period of the Standard and Poor’s 500 Stock Index and the NYSE ARCA Airline Index. The comparison assumes $100 was invested on December 31, 2015, in the Company’s common stock and in each of the foregoing indices and assumes reinvestment of dividends. The stock performance shown on the graph below represents historical stock performance and is not necessarily indicative of future stock price performance.

COMPARISON OF FIVE YEAR CUMULATIVE TOTAL RETURN AMONG SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO., S&P 500 INDEX, AND NYSE ARCA AIRLINE INDEX
luv-20201231_g2.jpg
12/31/201512/31/201612/31/201712/31/201812/31/201912/31/2020
Southwest Airlines Co.$100 $117 $155 $111 $131 $113 
S&P 500$100 $112 $136 $130 $171 $203 
NYSE ARCA Airline$100 $129 $136 $107 $132 $100 






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Issuer Repurchases

On May 15, 2019, the Company’s Board of Directors authorized the repurchase of up to $2.0 billion of the Company’s common stock. Subject to certain conditions, including restrictions on the Company pursuant to the CARES Act and Payroll Support Program Extension through March 31, 2022, repurchases may be made in accordance with applicable securities laws in open market or private, including accelerated, repurchase transactions from time to time, depending on market conditions. The Company has announced it has suspended further share repurchase activity until further notice. The Company has approximately $899 million remaining under its current share repurchase authorization.
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Item 6.         Selected Financial Data

The following financial information, for the five years ended December 31, 2020, has been derived from the Company’s Consolidated Financial Statements. This information should be viewed in conjunction with the Consolidated Financial Statements and related notes thereto included elsewhere herein. The Company provides the operating data below because these statistics are commonly used in the airline industry and, therefore, allow readers to compare the Company’s performance against its results for prior periods, as well as against the performance of the Company’s peers.
  
Year ended December 31,
 20202019201820172016
Financial Data (in millions, except per share amounts):
Operating revenues$9,048 $22,428 $21,965 $21,146 $20,289 
Operating expenses12,864 19,471 18,759 17,739 16,767 
Operating income (loss)(3,816)2,957 3,206 3,407 3,522 
Other expenses (income) net440 — 42 142 72 
Income (loss) before taxes(4,256)2,957 3,164 3,265 3,450 
Provision (benefit) for income taxes(1,182)657 699 (92)1,267 
Net income (loss)$(3,074)$2,300 $2,465 $3,357 $2,183 
Net income (loss) per share, basic$(5.44)$4.28 $4.30 $5.58 $3.48 
Net income (loss) per share, diluted$(5.44)$4.27 $4.29 $5.57 $3.45 
Cash dividends per common share$0.180 $0.700 $0.605 $0.475 $0.375 
Total assets at period-end$34,588 $25,895 $26,243 $25,110 $23,286 
Long-term obligations at period-end$10,111 $1,846 $2,771 $3,320 $2,821 
Stockholders’ equity at period-end$8,876 $9,832 $9,853 $9,641 $7,784 
Operating Data:
Revenue passengers carried (000s)54,088 134,056 134,890 130,256 124,720 
Enplaned passengers (000s)67,785 162,681 163,606 157,677 151,740 
Revenue passenger miles (RPMs) (in millions)(a)
54,221 131,345 133,322 129,041 124,798 
Available seat miles (ASMs) (in millions)(b)
103,456 157,254 159,795 153,811 148,522 
Load factor(c)
52.4 %83.5 %83.4 %83.9 %84.0 %
Average length of passenger haul (miles)1,002 980 988 991 1,001 
Average aircraft stage length (miles)743 748 757 754 760 
Trips flown897,540 1,367,727 1,375,030 1,347,893 1,311,149 
Seats flown (000s)(d)
137,405 206,390 207,223 200,879 193,168 
Seats per trip(e)
153.1 150.9 150.7 149.0 147.3 
Average passenger fare$141.72 $154.98 $151.64 $151.73 $152.89 
Passenger revenue yield per RPM (cents)(f)
14.14 15.82 15.34 15.32 15.28 
Operating revenues per ASM (cents)(g)(j)
8.75 14.26 13.75 13.75 13.66 
Passenger revenue per ASM (cents)(h)
7.41 13.21 12.80 12.85 12.84 
Operating expenses per ASM (cents)(i)
12.43 12.38 11.74 11.53 11.29 
Operating expenses per ASM, excluding fuel (cents)10.65 9.62 8.85 8.88 8.73 
Operating expenses per ASM, excluding fuel and profitsharing (cents)10.65 9.19 8.51 8.53 8.34 
Fuel costs per gallon, including fuel tax$1.45 $2.09 $2.20 $1.99 $1.90 
Fuel costs per gallon, including fuel tax, economic$1.49 $2.09 $2.20 $2.06 $2.00 
Fuel consumed, in gallons (millions)1,273 2,077 2,094 2,045 1,996 
Active fulltime equivalent Employees56,537 (j)60,767 58,803 56,110 53,536 
Aircraft at end of period718 (k)(l)747 (k)750 706 723 
(a)A revenue passenger mile is one paying passenger flown one mile. Also referred to as "traffic," which is a measure of demand for a given period.
(b)An available seat mile is one seat (empty or full) flown one mile. Also referred to as "capacity," which is a measure of the space available to carry passengers in a given period.
(c)Revenue passenger miles divided by available seat miles.
(d)Seats flown is calculated using total number of seats available by aircraft type multiplied by the total trips flown by the same aircraft type during a particular period.
(e)Seats per trip is calculated by dividing seats flown by trips flown.
(f)Calculated as passenger revenue divided by revenue passenger miles. Also referred to as "yield," this is the average cost paid by a paying passenger to fly one mile, which is a measure of revenue production and fares.
(g)Calculated as operating revenues divided by available seat miles. Also referred to as "operating unit revenues" or "RASM," this is a measure of operating revenue production based on the total available seat miles flown during a particular period.
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(h)Calculated as passenger revenue divided by available seat miles. Also referred to as "passenger unit revenues," this is a measure of passenger revenue production based on the total available seat miles flown during a particular period.
(i)Calculated as operating expenses divided by available seat miles. Also referred to as "unit costs" or "cost per available seat mile," this is the average cost to fly an aircraft seat (empty or full) one mile, which is a measure of cost efficiencies.
(j)Included 10,421 Employees participating in the Extended Emergency Time Off program as of December 31, 2020. See Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information.
(k)Included 32 and 34 Boeing MAX 737 aircraft in long-term storage as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively. See Note 17 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information.
(l)Included 60 Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft removed from active fleet and remained in long-term storage as of December 31, 2020.

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Item 7.        Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

YEAR IN REVIEW

In late February 2020, the Company began to see a negative impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, which quickly accelerated during the first quarter and continued throughout the remainder of the year. As a consequence, the Company experienced its first annual net loss in 48 years. The Company's prior trend of 47 consecutive years of profitability was a feat unmatched in the U.S. airline industry.

Both GAAP and non-GAAP results, shown in the following tables, were impacted by the pandemic. See Note Regarding Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures and the Reconciliation of Reported Amounts to Non-GAAP Financial Measures for additional detail regarding non-GAAP financial measures.
 Year ended 
(in millions, except per share amounts)December 31, 
GAAP20202019Percent Change
Operating income (loss)$(3,816)$2,957 n.m.
Net income (loss)$(3,074)$2,300 n.m.
Net income (loss) per share, diluted$(5.44)$4.27 n.m.
   
Non-GAAP
Operating income (loss)$(5,032)$2,957 n.m.
Net income (loss)$(3,512)$2,300 n.m.
Net income (loss) per share, diluted$(6.22)$4.27 n.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic depressed the demand for air travel and negatively impacted both GAAP and non-GAAP results year-over-year. Operating revenues for the year ended December 31, 2020 decreased 59.7 percent as the Company experienced load factors and yields that were considerably lower than historical levels. The Company took action to reduce capacity and swiftly cut costs, which generated a reduction in operating expenses of 33.9 percent. However, due to the fixed nature of a large portion of the Company's cost structure, especially in the short-term, the reduction in operating expenses was not enough to overcome the dramatic decline in revenues.

For periods prior to second quarter 2020, the Company provided its calculation of non-GAAP return on invested capital (“ROIC”) as a measure of financial performance used by management to quantify the Company’s effectiveness in generating returns relative to the capital invested in the business. By second quarter 2020, the precipitous drop in passenger demand and bookings caused by COVID-19 resulted in a material and adverse effect on the Company’s operating income and cash flows from operations. As a result, management ceased focus on ROIC and instead has since focused on bolstering the Company’s liquidity through cost reductions, financings, sale-leaseback transactions, and securities offerings. Accordingly, the Company has chosen not to present ROIC in this Form 10-K and does not expect to present it again until and if the operating environment normalizes sufficiently to return the Company to operating income instead of operating loss.

See Notes 2 and 7 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information on the significant impacts to the Company’s operations, financial performance, and liquidity from the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 Outlook

Thus far in 2021, the Company experienced stalled demand in January and bookings for February 2021, primarily driven by the high level of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as well as a seasonally weaker time period for leisure travel demand following the holidays. However, trip cancellations have stabilized and January 2021 operating revenues are expected to improve slightly compared with the Company's previous estimations for January
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2021 operating revenues provided mid-December 2020, primarily due to stronger leisure passenger demand in the January holiday return travel period and a slight improvement in load factor. The following table presents selected preliminary estimates of operating revenue, load factor, and capacity for January and February 2021:

Estimated
January 2021
Estimated
February 2021
Operating revenues year-over-yearDown 65% to 70%Down 65% to 75%
Previous estimationDown 65% to 75%(a)
As compared with 2019Down 65% to 70%Down 65% to 75%
Load factor50% to 55%50% to 55%
Previous estimation45% to 55%(a)
ASMs year-over-yearDown ~41%Down ~46%
Previous estimationDown 40% to 45%Down 40% to 45%
As compared with 2019Down ~43%Down ~45%
(a) No previous estimation provided.

The Company estimates its March 2021 capacity to decrease approximately 16 percent, year-over-year, or 31 percent, compared with March 2019. The Company estimates its first quarter 2021 capacity to decrease approximately 35 percent year-over-year, primarily driven by the continued negative effects of the pandemic.

Excluding Fuel and oil expense and special items, first quarter 2021 operating expenses are expected to decrease in the range of 15 to 20 percent, year-over-year, primarily due to lower capacity, year-over-year, as well as an estimated $400 million of cost savings from voluntary separation and extended leave programs. See Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further description of these programs. The year-over-year projections do not reflect the potential impact of Fuel and oil expense, special items, and profitsharing expense in both years because the Company cannot reliably predict or estimate these items or expenses or their impact to its financial statements in future periods, especially considering the significant volatility of the Fuel and oil expense line item. Accordingly, the Company believes a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures to the equivalent GAAP financial measures for projected results is not meaningful or available without unreasonable effort.

COVID-19 Pandemic

In response to the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company has taken significant measures to enhance and expand upon its already generous and flexible ticketing policies, and to support the well-being of both its Employees and passengers on a daily basis. These have included, but are not limited to the following:

Travel funds created because of a flight cancellation between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020, will now expire September 7, 2022.
Travel funds that would otherwise have expired between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020, will now expire September 7, 2022.
Rapid Rewards® loyalty program members who have travel funds that were set to expire, or funds that were created between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020, had the option to convert those travel funds into Rapid Rewards points at the same rate as they were able to purchase a ticket with points, through December 15, 2020.
All Rapid Rewards loyalty program members with an account opened by December 31, 2020 received a "boost" of 15,000 tier qualifying points and 10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status, and 25,000 Companion Pass qualifying points and 25 flight credits toward Companion Pass status.
All current A-List and A-List Preferred tier status members on April 1, 2020 earned status has been extended through December 31, 2021.
Companion pass members earned status on April 1, 2020 has been extended through December 31, 2021.
Enhanced aircraft cleaning procedures have been applied since March 4, 2020.
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Procedures and protocol have been implemented with the requirement that Employees and Customers (age two or over) must wear masks or face coverings.
Measures to support physical distancing, including messaging to Customers and Employees, and modified boarding procedures, have been implemented.
A Customer health declaration, which must be acknowledged prior to travel, has been implemented.
An Employee health declaration, which all Employees are expected to acknowledge, has been implemented.
The Company continues to offer the ability to work remotely to most of the Company’s office and clerical Employees, including the vast majority of its more than 6,000 Employees at the Company’s headquarters campus in Dallas, Texas.

The Company continues to communicate with its entire workforce on the employment of best practices and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in the current environment while at work, especially considering that a large portion of its Employees come into direct contact with Customers on a daily basis.

As detailed in Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements, in connection with the major negative impact of COVID-19 on air carriers, the Company has received significant financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Treasury (the "Treasury") pursuant to the Payroll Support Program established pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the "CARES Act"). Amounts received under the Payroll Support Program were approximately $3.4 billion and were utilized to directly offset payroll expenses incurred by the Company, including specified benefits, between April 2020 and September 2020. During 2020, the Company issued a promissory note in favor of the Treasury in the aggregate amount of $976 million and issued warrants valued at a total of $40 million to purchase up to an aggregate of 2.7 million shares of the Company's common stock, subject to adjustment pursuant to the terms of the warrants. Of the approximate $3.4 billion, $2.4 billion consists of a grant that does not require repayment. Approximately $2.3 billion of the direct payroll support of $2.4 billion was allocated on a pro-rata basis as a contra-expense line item in the Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income (Loss) between second and third quarters of 2020, with the remaining $40 million allocated to the value of warrants issued from the Company to the Treasury.

In accordance with restrictions contained in the CARES Act, and except as permitted or required under the Payroll Support Program, the Company did not (1) conduct involuntary terminations or furloughs or (2) reduce the salaries, wages, or benefits of any Employee, in each case between the date of the Payroll Support Program agreement and September 30, 2020.

In January 2021, the Company entered into definitive documentation with the Treasury for further payroll support under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (the "Payroll Support Program Extension"). Amounts received or to be received under the Payroll Support Program Extension are expected to total approximately $1.7 billion and will be utilized to directly offset payroll expenses incurred by the Company, including specified benefits, between January 2021 and March 2021. Of this total, approximately $1.2 billion consists of a grant that will not require repayment. The Company currently expects this direct payroll support of $1.2 billion will be classified as a contra-expense line item in the unaudited Condensed Consolidated Statement of Comprehensive Income (Loss) during first quarter 2021. The Company has issued a promissory note in favor of the Treasury in an initial amount of approximately $229 million and expects the amount to total approximately $488 million once the remaining payroll support is received. See Note 2 for further information.

In accordance with restrictions contained in the Payroll Support Program Extension, and except as permitted or required under the Payroll Support Program Extension, the Company has agreed not to (1) conduct involuntary terminations or furloughs or (2) reduce the salaries, wages, or benefits of any Employee, in each case between the date of the Payroll Support Program Extension agreement and March 31, 2021.

During second quarter 2020, the Company introduced Voluntary Separation Program 2020 and the Extended Emergency Time Off ("Extended ETO") program which aligned staffing to reduced flight schedules and enabled the Company to avoid involuntary furloughs and layoffs through 2020. Employees had until July 15, 2020, to determine whether to participate in one of these programs, and approximately 15,000 Employees elected to do so. The Company continues to evaluate and evolve its Extended ETO program in early 2021, including offering additional
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Extended ETO opportunities of one, two, or three month durations to certain Employees who are either not currently participating in Extended ETO, or who are currently on Extended ETO set to expire in coming months. In accordance with applicable accounting guidance, the Company recorded a total charge of $1.4 billion in 2020 related to the special termination benefits for Employees who had accepted the Company's offer to participate in its Voluntary Separation Program 2020 and the special benefits for Employees who participated in its Extended ETO program; the accrual is being reduced as program benefits are paid. This program has allowed the Company to reduce its fixed cost structure in the near-term, while maintaining the ability to adjust to a recovery in travel demand. See Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information. As a result of these voluntary programs, the Company's salaries, wages, and benefits costs were lowered by approximately $565 million in 2020. The Company expects an incremental $600 million of annual 2021 cost savings from these two programs, for a total reduction in salaries, wages, and benefits of approximately $1.2 billion, compared with annual 2019. In addition, Employees could take Emergency Time Off (“ETO”) for a calendar month, or Time Off Without Pay ("TOWOP") or Leave Without Pay ("LWOP") in smaller time increments. Between March 2020 and December 2020, the ETO, TOWOP, and LWOP programs accounted for a savings of approximately $265 million.

Company Overview

As of December 31, 2020, the Company operated approximately 50 percent of the daily departures operated as of December 31, 2019, prior to the impacts of the pandemic. The Company is pursuing additional revenue opportunities that utilize idle aircraft and Employees to provide Southwest's legendary Customer Service to new, popular destinations. The Company is leveraging additional airports in or near cities where its Customer base is large, along with adding easier access to popular leisure-oriented destinations from across its domestic-focused network. These additional service points on the Company's map are opportunities it can provide Customers now, all while better positioning the Company for a travel demand rebound. The Company launched service to six new destinations in 2020:

Hilo International Airport - January 19, 2020
Cozumel International Airport - March 7, 2020
Miami International Airport and Palm Springs International Airport - November 15, 2020
Montrose Regional Airport (Telluride and Crested Butte) and Yampa Valley Regional Airport (Steamboat Springs) - December 19, 2020

The Company has also announced other new destinations and expected service commencement dates including:
Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport - February 14, 2021
Colorado Springs Municipal Airport and Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport - March 11, 2021
Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Santa Barbara Airport - April 12, 2021
Fresno Yosemite International Airport - April 25, 2021
Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport in Mississippi - June 6, 2021

As previously reported, the Company suspended international operations in first quarter 2020 and has resumed selected service as follows:
Mexico and the Caribbean via Cancun, San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos, and Montego Bay - July 1, 2020
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - October 8, 2020
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, and Aruba - November 4, 2020
Havana, Cuba - December 6, 2020

The Company also resumed service to Nassau on July 1, 2020, but in response to new local restrictions imposed by the Bahamian government, the Company again suspended operations effective July 22, 2020. The Company is scheduled to resume service to Cozumel, Mexico in first quarter 2021. Service to the Company’s other international destinations is expected to resume pending the easing of government restrictions.

The Company achieved its goal of launching global distribution system ("GDS") access for corporate travelers in 2020, now at industry-standard participation with Amadeus' GDS platform and Travelport's multiple GDS platforms: Apollo, Worldspan, and Galileo. Also, in December 2020, the Company reached a full-participation GDS
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agreement with Sabre, planned to launch in the second half of 2021. The Company's enhancement of its GDS channel strategy complements its goal of distributing its everyday low fares to more corporate travelers through their preferred channel.

On November 18, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (the "FAA") issued official requirements to enable airlines to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service. The Company is currently working to meet the FAA's requirements by modifying certain operating procedures, implementing enhanced Pilot training requirements, installing FAA-approved flight control software updates, and completing other required maintenance tasks specific to the MAX aircraft. The Company has scheduled the MAX return to revenue service on March 11, 2021, after the Company is expected to have met all FAA requirements and all active Pilots are expected to have received updated, MAX-related training.

The Company continues its fleet modernization program and expects to retire a significant amount of its Boeing 737-700 fleet over the next 10-15 years. The Company evaluates whether to adhere to or alter its aircraft retirement plans in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, including whether to retain aircraft longer or accelerate retirements and replacements. The Company plans to use the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet modernization program and believes it will also have use for smaller aircraft such as the Boeing 737 MAX 7.

During December 2020, the Company took delivery of seven new leased Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from third parties. The Company recently reached an agreement with The Boeing Company (the "Boeing Agreement") to take delivery of the delayed MAX aircraft and currently expects to receive 35 MAX 8 deliveries through the end of 2021 consisting of 19 purchased aircraft and 16 leased aircraft (including the seven leases received in December 2020). Based on current delivery and retirements plans, the Company currently expects its fleet in 2021 to decrease from its fleet of 747 aircraft as of December 31, 2019. The details of the Boeing Agreement, which included the settlement of 2020 estimated damages relating to the grounding of the Company’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft, are confidential. However, as a result of certain delivery credits provided in the Boeing Agreement, as well as progress payments made to date on undelivered aircraft, the Company currently estimates an immaterial amount of aircraft capital expenditures in 2021. See Note 17 to the Consolidated Financial Statements and “Liquidity and Capital Resources” for further information.

The Company and Boeing are in discussions to change the Company’s aircraft order book, and the Company expects to make further adjustments to the delivery schedule. The Company offers no assurances that current estimations and timelines will not be changed.

2020 Compared with 2019

Operating Revenues

Passenger revenues for 2020 decreased by $13.1 billion, or 63.1 percent, compared with 2019. On a unit basis, Passenger revenues decreased 43.9 percent, year-over-year. The decreases in Passenger revenues on both a dollar and unit basis were primarily due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in significant reductions in capacity and a sharp decline in passenger demand and bookings during 2020.

Freight revenues for 2020 decreased by $11 million, or 6.4 percent, compared with 2019, primarily due to fewer trips flown, coupled with worldwide supply chain disruptions which reduced cargo demand. This reduction was partially offset by an increase in freight only activities, as the Company transported supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Other revenues for 2020 decreased by $258 million, or 17.4 percent, compared with 2019. The decrease was primarily due to a decrease in income from business partners, including Chase Bank USA, N.A. ("Chase") and the impact on spend on the Company's co-brand card, driven by the decline in consumer spending due to economic uncertainty and widespread restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Operating Expenses

Operating expenses for 2020 decreased by $6.6 billion, or 33.9 percent, compared with 2019, while capacity decreased 34.2 percent over the same period. Historically, except for changes in the price of fuel, changes in Operating expenses for airlines have been largely driven by changes in capacity, or ASMs. However, the Company's Operating expenses are largely fixed once flight schedules are published, and the Company has experienced significant ASM reductions as a result of flight schedule adjustments related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Flight schedule adjustments are expected to drive unit cost pressure for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, excluding any impacts associated with grants received under the CARES Act, the Payroll Support Program Extension, or other legislation. See "COVID-19 Pandemic" above and Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further information. The following table presents the Company's Operating expenses per ASM for 2020 and 2019, followed by explanations of these changes on a per ASM basis and dollar basis:

 Year ended December 31,Per ASMPercent
(in cents, except for percentages)20202019changechange
Salaries, wages, and benefits6.58 ¢5.27 ¢1.31 ¢24.9 %
Payroll support and voluntary Employee programs, net(0.94)— (0.94)n.m.
Fuel and oil1.78 2.76 (0.98)(35.5)
Maintenance materials and repairs0.72 0.78 (0.06)