Southwest CEO gives cautious outlook for fall travel demand

DALLAS (AP)  The chief executive of Southwest Airlines says he is cautious about demand for air travel this fall but has no immediate plans to cut back on expansion.

Southwest and other carriers packed their planes with vacation travelers this summer. But fall is traditionally a slower time for airlines. Occupancy levels on Southwest fell from record levels over the summer but were slightly higher than in September 2006.

C-E-O Gary Kelly called it "a solid month.'' Southwest reports its third-quarter financial results next week. Kelly spoke during a news conference to unveil a remodeled gate area at Love Field.

Southwest plans to spend $30 million to $40 million to give gate areas a facelift and allow customers to board by numbers instead of in three large groups. The upgraded gate areas are complete in San Antonio and will be finished next week in Dallas and in another dozen airports by early November.

Southwest expects to retrofit gate areas at all 62 airports it serves by mid-2008.