Southwest carried more passengers in April, despite fatal accident

Key Points
  • Southwest reported it carried more passengers last month than in April 2017.
  • The report comes just weeks after a fatal mid-air engine failure aboard a Southwest flight.
  • Southwest warned that bookings declined in the wake of the accident.
Southwest Airlines passenger aircraft parked at their gates at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 31, 2016.
Robert Alexander | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines carried more passengers last month than in April 2017, but posted a slight decline in traffic, in the wake of a fatal mid-air engine failure in the middle of the month.

Southwest carried close to 11.4 million paying passengers last month, up 2.8 percent from April 2017, the airline said Tuesday. 

Southwest warned investors last month that bookings declined after the April 17 accident. The airline had pulled marketing and other promotions in the wake of the engine failure.

Shortly into New York-Dallas Flight 1380 on April 17, a fan blade broke off of one of the Boeing 737-700's engines when the plane was flying above 30,000 feet. A cabin window broke as debris flew. A passenger, who was partly sucked through the opening, died, marking Southwest's first accident-related fatality in its 47 years of flying, and the first such death on a U.S. commercial airline since 2009.

Even though it carried more passengers, Southwest reported a slight decline in the number of revenue-passenger miles, a measure of traffic, which fell 0.3 percent compared with a year earlier.

The airline had said it canceled dozens of flights following the accident as it grounded planes to inspect its engines' fan blades, a task it expects to complete in mid-May.

Southwest shares were up 0.3 percent in morning trade.