Southwest Airlines Co. said fourth-quarter profit rose 13 percent to $131 million, or 18 cents a share, from $116 million, or 16 cents, a year earlier, Excluding one-time costs, the airline had a profit of 15 cents a share, meeting the average of 14 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
The results show more people are flying as economy improves.
Southwest Airlines's CEO said Thursday he would be comfortable operating three different aircraft types. Southwest is the largest 737 customer with a fleet of almost 550, and will acquire Boeing's smaller 717 plane when it buys AirTran Holdings Inc. (AAI), a deal seen closing in the second quarter.
This move intensifies pressure on Boeing Co. to decide whether to revamp its best-selling 737 or replace it with an all-new plane.
Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) Cargo was recognized for its excellence in air cargo for the sixth straight year, being named "Airline of the Year" by the Express Delivery & Logistics Association (XLA). Southwest Airlines has placed on XLA's Airline of the Year list for nine consecutive years.
The XLA Awards are based on an annual survey of association members who use the services of commercial passenger airlines for their express deliveries around the world. Southwest took top honors in 2002, 2003, and 2005 through 2009, and finished second in the rankings in 2001 and 2004.
Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) to cut schedule 3% as it heads into fall 2010, according to the Dallas Morning News. The airline on Tuesday opened up its schedule from Aug. 15 through Oct. 30. First, there are no new cities added during that period. Secondly, it has aggressively been pruning its schedule.
Some of Southwest's Florida cities are seeing big declines, with a net loss of 15 departures at Orlando and 11 at Tampa.
Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) the star performer in improving its unit revenues in recent months, continued to trump JetBlue, Continental Airlines and US Airways in this metric in Feb-2010, and was joined by United Airlines in reporting double-digit PRASM (Passenger Revenue per Available Seat Mile) in the month, according to the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation. Encouragingly, all the US carriers reporting monthly unit revenue figures registered growth in the month, with AirTran and Allegiant, which do not provide such updates, separately commenting of "improved" conditions in the market.
The lucrative business market, while recovering, is yet to return to pre-crisis levels, maintaining the pressure on the profitability and revenue outlook. The unit revenue figures were also inflated in the month, due to weather-related cancellations, which resulted in significant cancellations (and capacity reductions) across the US domestic network.
Southwest Airlines Cargo was recognized as the top airline in the world in Air Cargo World's annual Air Cargo Excellence (ACE) Survey released today. Rated against 84 airlines, Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) earned the highest overall airline score, led all airlines in the Performance and Value categories, and received the highest honor, the Diamond Award.
The Air Cargo Excellence Survey, established five years ago and published annually by Air Cargo World, acknowledged Southwest Airlines Cargo for achievements in air cargo excellence in four key areas: Customer Service, Performance, Information Technology, and Value.
Southwest Airlines shares gained 0.6% on Friday, upon the release of the carrier’s Feb-2010 traffic results according to the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation. Southwest stated weather-related flight cancellations during the month reduced passenger revenues by an estimated USD15 million. Comparatively, Continental and US Airways have estimated losses of USD25 million and USD30 million, respectively, due to the February storms, which caused airlines to cancel thousands of flights and resulted in delays to many others.
However, the low cost carrier's (LCC) passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) is estimated to have increased in the 16-17% range in the month (although these results were partially a result of the cancelled services). Southwest has reported strong growth in unit revenue since Sep-2009, with Feb-2010’s PRASM levels the highest since Southwest emerged from PRASM declines in Aug-2009.
The stocks of many of the major carriers have nearly doubled in price since early November 2009. Similar to most industry groups, the airline stocks trade together. The best airline of the group is Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV), according to Inthemoneystocks.com.
Southwest Airlines Co is trading above its daily 20 and 50 moving averages, which signal that the trend is up and the stock has good support at $12.00. This company also has a slightly different business model from the legacy carriers in that they have only one type of aircraft that they fly. This factor in their business model has kept this airline profitable for many years as most of the others struggle to survive and make profits.
Shares in Southwest Airlines set a new 52-week high at USD12.89 yesterday, up 1.0% from the previous day’s close. AirTran's shares soared 5.6%, while JetBlue and Allegiant were also stronger, up 0.6% and 1.7%, respectively, according to the Centreforaviation.com.
US airline stocks have been stronger so far in 2010, due to improved balance sheets and passenger demand. With signs of the economy improving further, investors are optimistic that some of the large carriers will report profitable results in 2010.
Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) said it was open to acquisitions but added that this strategy would come secondary to growing the airline organically, said CFO Laura Wright, according to Reuters. "No question, if the right opportunity presented itself with all the right facts, we would certainly be interested," Wright said on Wednesday.
But Wright quickly added that Southwest, the second-largest airline by market value, has only made acquisitions three times in its nearly 40-year history. "From where we sit, we don't see consolidation as something that's necessary for us," Wright said.
The U.S. industry has lost some $11 billion in 2009 alone, according to the International Air Transport Association. But Wright and other airline executives have said in recent months that travel demand has strengthened. Continued "capacity discipline" as well as economic recovery could pave the way for U.S. airlines to improve the profitability, or yields, on each flight, Wright said.
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