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Airlines Get Ready for Busy Summer as Travel Ramps Up

American, Southwest project busy travel season after winter slowdown

Airlines say that travel demand is picking up heading into the critical summer travel season, fueling their expectations for profits after what was in some cases a more lackluster winter.

Southwest Airlines Co. decrease; red down pointing triangle reported a quarterly loss of $159 million as the impact of the airline’s winter meltdown bled into the first months of the year. The airline said it saw a $325 million hit to revenue due to cancellations of “holiday return travel” and slower bookings in January and February but said bookings turned around by March.

Over the winter holidays, storms overwhelmed Southwest’s operation and crew-rescheduling software couldn’t keep pace to reset the airline.

American Airlines Group Inc. increase; green up pointing triangle reported a profit of $10 million on record first-quarter revenue of $12.2 billion.

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Several rivals posted losses during the first quarter, which is typically the weakest time of year for airlines. Lucrative corporate travel, which has yet to return to prepandemic levels, didn’t fill in for the typical drop-off in vacation travel after the winter holidays. At the same time, carriers grappled with higher costs for fuel.

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Southwest Airlines Delays Thousands of Flights Amid Technology Issue

Airline resumes departures after a data-connection problem led to a pause

Southwest Airlines Co. decrease; red down pointing triangle flight delays persisted Tuesday, affecting over half the airline’s flights as it grappled with fallout from a technology problem that briefly halted its operation earlier in the day.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it had canceled Southwest’s pause in departures, which the airline had requested earlier in the day because of an internal technical issue at the carrier.

Southwest said it temporarily halted flights Tuesday to work through data-connection issues. The airline said a firewall supplied by a vendor went down and “connection to some operational data was unexpectedly lost.”

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Saudi Arabia Unveils New Airline Amid Jet Talks With Boeing

Riyadh Air is trying to use its geographic position to attract fliers

Boeing aircraft under construction at a facility in Everett, Wash.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—This oil rich kingdom unveiled a new international airline called Riyadh Air, aiming to compete with a handful of other Middle Eastern carriers that have used their geography to build world-class airlines and attract business travelers and tourists.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, is close to committing to a big order of Boeing Co. BA 0.15%increase; green up pointing triangle jets to underpin the new airline, The Wall Street Journal first reported over the weekend. A deal, which could be announced as early as this week, would be a boon for the aircraft maker and a big bet by Riyadh that it can compete in an already-crowded regional aviation market.

The new airline—and the billions of dollars in jet purchases it will require—comes as Saudi coffers swell on the back of higher crude prices. The windfall has helped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman push ahead on some of his most ambitious efforts in trying to diversify the economy away from the booms and busts that come with its prodigious oil industry.

Separately on Sunday, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known better as Aramco, reported record annual profit of $161 billion for 2022, the largest ever by an energy firm. The bumper earnings reflect a turnaround for the industry—and petrostates such as Saudi Arabia—after the Ukraine war lifted oil prices and upended commodity flows.

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Boeing, Airbus Sell 470 Planes to Air India in Record Deal

Carrier is seeking to reinvent itself as a rival to the world’s biggest airlines

Air India’s order marks the largest deal for commercial aircraft in aviation history.

Air India Ltd. ordered 470 jets from Boeing Co. BA 0.15%increase; green up pointing triangle and Airbus EADSY -1.38%decrease; red down pointing triangle SE, marking the largest deal for commercial aircraft in aviation history and coming as airlines scramble for jets to meet surging demand for air travel.

The airline said it has agreed to purchase 250 Airbus jets and 220 Boeing planes, surpassing a deal for 460 planes by American Airlines in 2011. The deal is aimed at providing more planes to supply India, which is expected to be the fastest-growing major aviation market in the world.

The Boeing orders, based on the planes’ list prices, came in at $45.9 billion, including options. Airbus no longer quotes list prices for its jets. Based on analysts’ estimates, the deal’s total value was around $85 billion before discounts. The previous record—a 2013 order for Boeing 777X jets by Emirates Airline—was valued at about $75 billion. Airlines don’t typically pay list price, instead benefiting from large, undisclosed discounts.

The Boeing order was first announced by the White House, with the Airbus deal unveiled by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron at a joint press conference. President Biden later discussed the deal with Mr. Modi, according to the White House.

Airbus, buoyed by the Air India deal, is planning to boost production rates of its two biggest models as it tries to capitalize on resurgent demand for long-haul travel, The Wall Street Journal separately reported. Boeing has pushed back planned production increases because of supplier shortages, though it still hopes to raise output this year.

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