'9/11-type feel' to airline demand drop over coronavirus: Southwest CEO to CNBC

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The drop-off in air travel demand following the spread of coronavirus cases feels more driven by fear than economics, similar to 9/11, Southwest Airlines Co LUV.N Chief Executive Gary Kelly told CNBC on Thursday.

“We’ve been through several recessions in my four decades with the company and you do see a sharp drop in business travel in a recessionary period. This feels somewhat like that, hopefully it’ll be short-lived,” Kelly said.

“9/11 wasn’t an economically driven issue for travel, it was more fear quite frankly and I think that’s what’s manifested this time. I think there’s elements of both but it has a 9/11-type feel. Hopefully, we’ll get this behind us quickly.”

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Matthew Lewis