FILE PHOTO: A Southwest Airlines Co. employee wears a protective mask while assisting a passenger at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., May 23, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Southwest Airlines Chief Executive Gary Kelly told employees on Monday that he was concerned about the impact of a recent rise in COVID-19 cases and quarantines on already-weak travel demand and said passenger numbers would need to triple by the end of the year to prevent job cuts.

“Although furloughs and layoffs remain our very last resort, we can’t rule them out as a possibility obviously in this very bad environment,” Kelly said in a message to employees reviewed by Reuters. He added that a spike in cases and travel restrictions

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