Southwest Airlines offering buyouts to 27% of employees

July 18, 2007
Buyouts include $25,000 cash, medical and dental benefits, and travel privileges

Southwest Airlines Co., already slowing growth to help boost profits, is offering buyouts to 27 percent of its employees to reduce operating costs.

About 9,000 workers are eligible for the buyouts, which include $25,000 cash, medical and dental benefits and travel privileges, spokeswoman Brandy King said Tuesday in an interview. It's the second such program in Dallas-based Southwest's 36-year history.

The offer marks Southwest's latest effort to offset rising labor and fuel spending, its two largest expenses. The airline said in June it would slow capacity growth in this year's fourth quarter and all of 2008 to maximize revenue on each flight.

Southwest has been expanding operations at Denver International Airport and in November will have 56 daily departures from Denver to 16 cities. Southwest is hiring dozens of workers as it gears up for the expansion, so the buyouts will have little effect on its work force here.