(CNN) – Southwest Airlines is in the process of selling every seat on its flights.
News that the airline will no longer cap the number of seats sold follows Southwest, announcing a $ 1.2 billion loss in the third quarter due to the pandemic.
In an earnings report on Thursday, Southwest announced that it would no longer limit capacity on flights from December 1. The change marks an end to Southwest’s pandemic policy and provides the ability to fill planes during the normally busy vacation travel season.
“This practice of effectively keeping the middle seats open has bridged us from the beginnings of the pandemic when we had little knowledge of how the virus behaved until now,” Southwest said. “Today, in accordance with science-based evidence from trusted medical and aviation organizations, we will resume sales of all available seats for travel starting December 1, 2020.”
Southwest has not allocated any seats, so capacity has been limited to flights to allow passengers to spread out rather than blocking the center seats like many other airlines have done.
Southwest said it will notify customers on a flight in advance if more than 65% of seats are sold.
The airline announced Thursday that it anticipates the center seats to remain empty, meaning the airline will miss out on potential revenues of $ 20 million in October and between $ 40 million and $ 60 million in November .
This leaves Delta Air Lines the last remaining big four airline to limit the capacity in aircraft cabins.
Ed Bastian, Delta CEO, said on a conference call with analysts last week that the policy is expected to end in early 2021, depending on consumer confidence in air travel.
“We have many studies by experts on the safety of air traffic,” said Bastian about the current capacity limits of the airline.
“And sometime in the first half of next year we will no doubt be [lifting] these caps. But we haven’t picked a date yet and I would say we will continue to start the new year with the caps. “
United Airlines and American Airlines have been selling every seat for months.
Alaska Airlines announced on Thursday that it would extend the lockdown on the middle seats until January 6, 2021.
A recent study by the Department of Defense found that the risk of airborne droplet transmission in aircraft due to special airflow and filter systems is limited in masked passengers in aircraft.
CNN’s Chris Isidore contributed to this report.