The Associated Press April 4, 2011, 7:50AM ET

Ahead of the Bell: Southwest Airlines slides

Shares of Southwest Airlines Co. skidded in pre-market trading Monday as the company continued to inspect its planes after the fuselage of one jet ripped during a flight, forcing an emergency landing.

Southwest has grounded 79 planes following Friday's incident, and canceled around 700 flights over the weekend. The company said it had found two other planes with cracks in the fuselage, and another with cracks developing in the fuselage. The company said 19 other aircraft have been inspected and will be returned to service because no problems were found.

On Friday afternoon, a flight from Phoenix to Sacramento, Calif. was forced to make an emergency landing after a 5-foot-long tear opened in the roof of the passenger cabin. No one was seriously hurt, and the plane landed at a military base in Yuma, Ariz. Southwest is inspecting all its Boeing 737-700s with similar wear and tear to the 15-year-old jet. It expects to complete the inspections by late Tuesday.

Southwest shares fell 59 cents, or 4.7 percent, to $12.08 in pre-market trading. The stock has traded between $10.42 and $14.32 in the last year.


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