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Airline results take a hit from higher fuel cost

US airline earnings are down as they cope with rising fuel costs and a drop in the number of passengers traveling to Japan

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Untied Continental

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United Continental, formed last year from a merger of UAL and Continental Airlines, posted a larger quarterly net loss of $213 million, or 65 cents a share, from $82 million, or 49 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding $77 million of charges consisting primarily of integration-related costs, the airline said it lost 41 cents per share. On that basis, analysts expected a loss of 48 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

United Continental compares the results of the merged airline with consolidated year-ago results for UAL and Continental. The old United and Continental currently operate as separate airlines, but management is working to combine them iquarter was $3 million, or a penny per diluted share, compared with a loss of $1 million, or nil cents a share.

Analysts expected a gain of a penny per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines said Thursday first quarter net income came to $5 million, or 1 cent a share, compared with $11 million, or 1 cent a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, profit came to 3 cents a share, in line with consensus analyst estimates, according to Thomson Reuters.

Quarterly revenue rose 18 percent to $3.1 billion. Total expenses rose 16 percent as fuel and oil costs were up 26 percent.

Southwest expects to acquire low-cost rival AirTran during the second quarter, a deal that will bolster its presence in big U.S. East Coast markets. The carrier also plans to add a larger Boeing 737 plane to its fleet.

JetBlue

JetBlue's net income for the first quarter was $3 million, or a penny per diluted share. This compares to a net loss of $1 million, or nil cents a share, a year ago.

Analysts expected a gain of a penny per share, according to Thomson Reuters. Operating revenue of $1 billion was also in line with Wall Street expectations.

JetBlue paid 34 percent more for fuel over the year-ago period, but it recorded $2 million in hedging gains.

For the second quarter, unit costs, including fuel, are expected to increase between 18 and 20 percent.

Alaska Air, the parent of Alaska Airlines, posted a record quarterly profit, comfortably exceeding analyst expectations. Earnings, excluding special items, of $29.5 million, or 80 cents per diluted share, rose from $13.1 million, or 36 cents per share, in the year-earlier period, the company said on Thursday.

Analysts expected earnings of 71 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters.

-Reuters contributed to this report.