July 23, 2020 / 5:17 PM / 17 days ago

REFILE-Southwest sees $1 bln in cost savings next year, avoids layoffs for now

(Removes errant comma in headline)

CHICAGO, July 23 (Reuters) - Southwest Airlines expects to save more than $1 billion in 2021 thanks to the high number of employees taking early retirement or extended time off as the industry grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, an executive told investors on Thursday.

The estimated savings could fluctuate if the airline brings back employees sooner than expected to meet any increases in travel demand. But if demand continues to stall, it may have to consider furloughs or layoffs that, unlike some rivals, Southwest intends to avoid this year. (Reporting by Tracy Rucinski and Sanjana Shivdas; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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