Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Shares of Southwest Airlines fell early Wednesday after it reported the federal shutdown last month caused it to lose $60 million in the first quarter -- a loss about four times greater than first thought.
The Dallas-based airline previously said it expected first quarter losses from the shutdown wouldn't exceed $15 million.
"Since then, the company has continued to experience softness in passenger demand and bookings as a result of the government shutdown," Southwest said in the filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The 35-day shutdown meant fewer government employees needed to fly and some customers stayed away because of security delays. Many Transportation Security Administration screeners called in sick as opposed to working without pay.
Southwest Airlines wasn't the only airline hit by the shutdown. American, Delta and United all warned that first quarter numbers would be down.
Shares of Southwest dropped nearly 3 percent in pre-market trading Wednesday after the 8-K filing was released.
Southwest also said it expects its revenue per seat mile to increase by 3-4 percent in the first quarter over Q1 2018 -- down from an expectation of a 4-5 percent rise.
The shutdown has delayed Southwest's launch of flights to Hawaii, as it still needs Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards certification before it can fly the California-to-Hawaii route. Certification means Southwest is capable of flying the plane with one engine for an extended period of time over the Pacific Ocean if one engine fails.
The shutdown put the airline in a holding pattern for several weeks when it would like to be selling tickets for spring travel to Hawaii. Southwest has started validation flights from Oakland, Calif., to Honolulu since the government re-opened.
The airline said the inability to sell Hawaii flights contributed to the $60 million loss. Once Southwest gets final clearance, the flights will begin soon after. No specific dates have been announced.
Southwest has also been dealing with an "operational emergency" that forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights this week. The carrier blamed the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association and apologized to customers for the disruption. The airline has threatened to fire workers who call in sick without providing a doctor's note.
"Southwest Airlines scapegoating of its expert aircraft maintenance technicians does not bode well for the airline's safe operations,'' AMFA national director Bret Oestreich answered in a statement. "Safety is, and always will be, our number one priority.''