US Airways 4Q profit doubles
US Airways' net income doubled in the fourth quarter and executives said the strong demand the airline is seeing is often a precursor to higher fares.
Fuller planes made the difference in the last three months as revenue set a record.
Airlines successfully raised fares five times last year but have struggled to do so lately. Two attempts led by United this month failed after other airlines didn't match the increases. For US Airways, one measure of fares, called yield, declined very slightly in the fourth quarter.
The good fortune for travelers may not last.
US Airways President Scott Kirby said that full planes and improved demand historically lead to fare increases. There were fewer empty seats in the final quarter of 2012 — occupancy rose 2 percentage points to 83.9 percent. January bookings are up 8 percent from a year ago, Kirby said.
“While it's taking some time, I expect that this strong environment will lead to improving yields across the industry,” Kirby said on a conference call with analysts.
Even without higher fares, having more passengers boosted profits. Revenue for each seat flown one mile — a key performance indicator for airlines — rose 2.2 percent. US Airways' net income for the quarter was $37 million, or 22 cents per share, compared with $18 million, or 11 cents per share a year ago. Excluding special items, net income was 26 cents per share, 7 cents higher than analyst forecasts, according to FactSet.
Revenue rose 3.9 percent to $3.28 billon, a record for the quarter. For the full year, net income jumped to $637 million, or $3.28 per share — the largest profit in the airline's history, the company said.
CEO Doug Parker said US Airways shares rose 166 percent last year, more than any other Fortune 500 company.
US Airways is in merger talks with American Airlines. But it wouldn't discuss the topic on Wednesday, citing a non-disclosure agreement.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.