FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines jets are parked on the tarmac during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak at Baltimore Washington International Airport in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S., May 25, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

(Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Co (LUV.N) Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly said on Friday he expects a “brutal low-fare” environment when traffic returns after coronavirus-induced restrictions ease.

“There are far more airplane seats right now, and there will be for some time, than there are customers,” he said in a video message.

“Our low-cost philosophy, strategy and structure will serve us very well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought air travel to a virtual halt, leading to an unprecedented number of flight cancellations globally and resulting in airlines booking hefty losses.

Airlines have been operating about 90% fewer flights than normal but they are gradually adding flights back to their schedules as demand is starting to pick up.

Reporting by C Nivedita and Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel

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