UPDATE 1-Southwest sees slower cash burn as bookings improve in February

(Adds details on business travel demand, background)

Feb 16 (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines on Tuesday forecast slower cash burn in the current quarter as leisure bookings and demand improve in February.

The airline expects average core cash burn to be about $15 million a day in the first quarter, compared with $17 million it had estimated previously.

Southwest, however, said business travel demand and bookings remained depressed.

U.S. airlines expect demand to improve this year as vaccines become more widely distributed but have warned that the strength of any rebound will depend on the pace of vaccine rollouts and the easing of travel restrictions.

Southwest also confirmed on Tuesday plans to fly the Boeing Co’s 737 MAX, which was approved to fly commercially again in November after a 20-month safety ban, from March 11.

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