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Full planes help boost 1st-quarter results for US Airways

| Tuesday, April 23, 2013, 2:54 p.m.

Full planes were good to US Airways.

The nation's fifth-largest airline posted a bigger adjusted first-quarter profit as it carried more passengers, and collected more from them.

US Airways Group Inc. earned $44 million, or 26 cents per share. Its adjusted profit was 31 cents per share, topping the expectations of analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue rose 3.5 percent to $3.38 billion.

The airline earned 28 cents per share in the year-ago quarter, but that was inflated by a swap with Delta for landing rights in Washington.

Occupancy rose 2.4 percentage points to 81.7 percent.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker said Tuesday his airline has “made a lot of progress” since announcing its merger with American Airlines in mid-February. US Airways says it still expects the deal to close by the end of September.

The staffs of the two airlines have started working together and “are working together extremely well,” Parker said. “We're on track to meet our goals.”

The $11 billion merger of Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways and Fort Worth-based American will create the world's largest airline. Parker will lead the combined carrier, which will keep the American name and Fort Worth headquarters.

“We've made a lot of progress since we announced (the merger with American) in mid-February,” Parker told financial analysts and investors Tuesday in a conference call about US Airways' first-quarter financial results.

Last week, American and its parent AMR Corp. filed its disclosure statement with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Also last week, American and US Airways filed registration documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission, detailing the long road to their merger.

Parker acknowledged the two airlines have “some cultural differences,” but that each has “a lot of positives” and the combined carrier will “try to meld” the best of both cultures.

The airlines are working on plans to combine their code-sharing agreements soon after the merger closes, Parker said. US Airways also is working with its Star Alliance partners for a smooth transition to American's Oneworld Alliance, he said.

The two airlines are on track for regulatory and antitrust approvals, Parker said. Since US Airways filed with the U.S. Department of Justice on Jan. 31, it has received a second request and is working with the agency to provide the necessary information, he said.

US Airways plans to file its application for European Union competition approval in May, Parker said.

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