Southwest sees relief in recent drop in oil prices

May 18, 2011 - 1:59 PM

DALLAS (AP) — The CEO of Southwest Airlines expects his airline to catch a break from the recent drop in oil prices. He also says bookings for early summer look strong.

Southwest Airlines Co. said Wednesday that it expects its 2011 fuel bill to rise $1.3 billion over last year's $3.62 billion tab. It previously forecast a $1.5 billion jump.

CEO Gary Kelly says May and June bookings are strong, but he's worried whether the company can raise fares fast enough to cover high fuel costs. Southwest has already raised fares seven times this year.

Kelly also said at the company's annual shareholder meeting that Southwest isn't planning to raise its dividend until it can increase profits.