Performance

The Boeing 737 MAX

We view the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as our growth aircraft for the future. As compared with the prior generation of 737 aircraft, the MAX provides increased range, the Boeing Sky Interior (similar to the 737-800s), improved cockpit capabilities, a quieter engine, and is approximately 14 percent more fuel efficient than the 737-800 aircraft, and approximately 20 percent more fuel efficient than the 737-300 aircraft (Classics).6060) The 2019 Southwest Airlines One Report contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Specific forward-looking statements include, without limitation, statements related to (i) the Company’s Vision; (ii) the Company’s financial position, outlook, plans, strategies, goals, targets, and projected results of operations, including factors and assumptions underlying the Company’s projections; (iii) the Company’s operational initiatives and related plans and expectations, including with respect to technology and fleet initiatives; (iv) the Company’s other initiatives, including hiring, diversity, Rapid Rewards, safety, fuel, and environmental and sustainability initiatives and related plans and expectations; (v) the Company’s network plans, expectations, and opportunities; (vi) the Company’s expectations with respect to fuel efficiency, including factors and assumptions underlying the Company’s expectations; (vii) the Company's plans, expectations, and priorities in connection with the return of the MAX to service; and (viii) the Company’s fleet plans and expectations. These statements involve risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and other factors that are difficult to predict and that could cause actual results to vary materially from those expressed in or indicated by them. Factors include, among others, (i) the impact of fears or actual outbreaks of disease or pandemics, changes in consumer behavior, economic conditions, governmental actions, extreme or severe weather and natural disasters, fears of terrorism or war, actions of competitors, fuel prices, consumer perception, and other factors beyond the Company's control, on consumer behavior and the Company's results of operations and business decisions, plans, strategies, and results; (ii) the Company's dependence on Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration with respect to the timing of the return of the 737 MAX to service and any related changes to the Company's operational and financial assumptions and decisions; (iii) the Company’s dependence on other third parties, and the impact on the Company’s operations and results of operations of any third party delays or non-performance; (iv) the Company's ability to timely and effectively implement, transition, and maintain the necessary information technology systems and infrastructure to support its operations and initiatives; (v) the Company’s ability to timely and effectively prioritize its initiatives and related expenditures; (vi) the impact of labor matters on the Company’s business decisions, plans, and strategies; and (vii) other factors, as described in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the detailed factors discussed under the heading "Risk Factors" in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, and in the Company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2020.

On March 13, 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency order for all U.S. airlines to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The MAX groundings reduced operating income an estimated $828 million during 2019. Our business model—preparing in the good times for the bad—has protected us throughout our history and has once again held true in 2019.

As of March 2020, The Boeing Company (Boeing) estimated that the ungrounding of the MAX will occur mid-2020. Upon a rescission of the FAA order to ground the MAX fleet, we will initially focus on safely reintroducing the 34 MAX 8 aircraft currently in our fleet, as well as taking  delivery of 27 MAX 8 aircraft currently produced and being held in storage by Boeing. One of our most significant cost initiatives is modernizing our fleet.

See Footnotes: 6161) The Company's Consolidated Financial Statements are prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States ("GAAP"). These GAAP financial statements may include (i) unrealized noncash adjustments and reclassifications, which can be significant, as a result of accounting requirements and elections made under accounting pronouncements relating to derivative instruments and hedging and (ii) other charges and benefits the Company believes are unusual and/or infrequent in nature and thus may make comparisons to its prior or future performance difficult.

As a result, the Company also provides financial information in this filing that was not prepared in accordance with GAAP and should not be considered as an alternative to the information prepared in accordance with GAAP. The Company provides supplemental non-GAAP financial information (also referred to as "excluding special items"), including results that it refers to as "economic," which the Company's management utilizes to evaluate its ongoing financial performance and the Company believes provides additional insight to investors as supplemental information to its GAAP results. The non-GAAP measures provided that relate to the Company’s performance on an economic fuel cost basis include fuel and oil expense, non-GAAP; total operating expenses, non-GAAP; operating income, non-GAAP; net income, non-GAAP; met income per share, diluted, non-GAAP; operating expenses per ASM, non-GAAP, excluding fuel and oil expense and profitsharing; adjusted operating income, non-GAAP; and Income tax rate, non-GAAP. The Company's economic fuel and oil expense results differ from GAAP results in that they only include the actual cash settlements from fuel hedge contracts - all reflected within fuel and oil expense in the period of settlement. Thus, fuel and oil expense on an economic basis has historically been utilized by the Company, as well as some of the other airlines that utilize fuel hedging, as it reflects the Company’s actual net cash outlays for fuel during the applicable period, inclusive of settled fuel derivative contracts. Any net premium costs paid related to option contracts that are designated as hedges are reflected as a component of fuel and oil expense, for both GAAP and non-GAAP (including economic) purposes in the period of contract settlement. The Company believes these economic results provide further insight on the impact of the Company's fuel hedges on its operating performance and liquidity since they exclude the unrealized, noncash adjustments and reclassifications that are recorded in GAAP results in accordance with accounting guidance relating to derivative instruments, and they reflect all cash settlements related to fuel derivative contracts within fuel and oil expense. This enables the Company's management, as well as investors and analysts, to consistently assess the Company's operating performance on a year-over-year or quarter-over-quarter basis after considering all efforts in place to manage fuel expense. However, because these measures are not determined in accordance with GAAP, such measures are susceptible to varying calculations, and not all companies calculate the measures in the same manner. As a result, the aforementioned measures, as presented, may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies.

Further information on (i) the Company's fuel hedging program, (ii) the requirements of accounting for derivative instruments, and (iii) the causes of hedge ineffectiveness and/or mark-to-market gains or losses from derivative instruments is included in Note 2 and Note 10 to the Consolidated Financial Statements on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, which also discusses the Company’s Jan. 1, 2018 adoption of the New Hedging Standard.

The Company’s GAAP results in the applicable periods may include other charges or benefits that are also deemed "special items," that the Company believes make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or industry trends. Financial measures identified as non-GAAP (or as excluding special items) have been adjusted to exclude special items. For the periods presented, in addition to the items discussed above, special items include:

    •  A gain recognized in first quarter 2018, associated with the sale of 39 Boeing 737-300 ("Classic") aircraft and a number of spare engines to a third party. These aircraft were previously retired as part of the Company's exit of its Classic fleet. The gain was not anticipated, and the Company associates it with the grounding charge recorded in third quarter 2017;

    •  Lease termination costs recorded as a result of the Company acquiring 13 of its Classic aircraft off operating leases as part of the Company’s strategic effort to remove its Classic aircraft from operations on or before September 29, 2017, in the most economically advantageous manner possible. The Company had not budgeted for these early lease termination costs, as they were subject to negotiations being concluded with the third party lessors. The Company recorded the fair value of the aircraft acquired off operating leases, as well as any associated remaining obligations to the balance sheet as debt; and

    •  An Aircraft grounding charge recorded in third quarter 2017, as a result of the Company grounding its remaining Classic aircraft on September 29, 2017. The loss was a result of the remaining net lease payments due and certain lease return requirements that could have to be performed on these leased aircraft prior to their return to the lessors as of the cease-use date. The Company had not budgeted for the lease return requirements, as they were subject to negotiation with third party lessors.

Because management believes special items can distort the trends associated with the Company’s ongoing performance as an airline, the Company believes that evaluation of its financial performance can be enhanced by a supplemental presentation of results that exclude the impact of special items in order to enhance consistency and comparativeness with results in prior periods that do not include such items and as a basis for evaluating operating results in future periods. The following measures are often provided, excluding special items, and utilized by the Company’s management, analysts, and investors to enhance comparability of year-over-year results, as well as to industry trends: total operating expenses, non-GAAP; operating income, non-GAAP; net income, non-GAAP; net income per share, diluted, non-GAAP; operating expenses per ASM, non-GAAP, excluding fuel and oil expense and profitsharing; adjusted operating income, non-GAAP; and income tax rate, non-GAAP.

The Company has also provided free cash flow, which is a non-GAAP financial measure. The Company believes free cash flow is a meaningful measure because it demonstrates the Company's ability to service its debt, pay dividends, and make investments to enhance Shareholder value. Although free cash flow is commonly used as a measure of liquidity, definitions of free cash flow may differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for free cash flow. For the year ended December 31, 2019, the Company generated $3.4 billion in free cash flow, calculated as operating cash flows of $4.0 billion less capital expenditures of $1.0 billion plus supplier proceeds of $400 million.

The Company has also provided its calculation of return on invested capital, which is a measure of financial performance used by management to evaluate its investment returns on capital. Return on invested capital is not a substitute for financial results as reported in accordance with GAAP, and should not be utilized in place of such GAAP results. Although return on invested capital is not a measure defined by GAAP, it is calculated by the Company, in part, using non-GAAP financial measures. Those non-GAAP financial measures are utilized for the same reasons as those noted above for net income, non-GAAP and operating income, non-GAAP. The comparable GAAP measures include charges or benefits that are deemed "special items" that the Company believes make its results difficult to compare to prior periods, anticipated future periods, or industry trends, and the Company’s profitability targets and estimates, both internally and externally, are based on non-GAAP results since in the vast majority of cases the "special items" cannot be reliably predicted or estimated. The Company believes non-GAAP return on invested capital is a meaningful measure because it quantifies the Company's effectiveness in generating returns relative to the capital it has invested in its business. Although return on invested capital is commonly used as a measure of capital efficiency, definitions of return on invested capital differ; therefore, the Company is providing an explanation of its calculation for non-GAAP return on invested capital in the accompanying reconciliation, in order to allow investors to compare and contrast its calculation to the calculations provided by other companies.

Information regarding special items and reconciliation of reported amounts to amounts excluding special items are included in the accompanying reconciliation tables in the Performance section.
, 6262) Estimated impact to financial results from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) emergency order issued on March 13, 2019, for all U.S. airlines to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. 27 .

 

At the end of 2019, we reached a confidential agreement with Boeing for compensation related to estimated 2019 financial damages due to the MAX groundings. The compensation from Boeing will be accounted for as a reduction in the purchase price of currently owned MAX aircraft and future MAX firm orders, which reduces property and equipment on our balance sheet and will result in lower depreciation expense over the useful life of the aircraft. In light of this agreement, our Board of Directors authorized an incremental $124 million profitsharing award during fourth quarter 2019, resulting in a record $667 million annual 2019 profitsharing accrual for our Employees.

While we are pleased with the Boeing agreement for 2019, we have incurred financial damages in 2020, and will continue discussions with Boeing regarding further compensation.

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