US Airways Group (LCC) beat expectations with fourth-quarter earnings that climbed substantially higher, as passenger traffic growth offset disruptions after Hurricane Sandy.

Revenue for the fifth-largest U.S. carrier jumped 3.9% year-over-year to $3.28 billion, with passenger traffic increasing 3.8%. Capacity was up 1.4%, and load factor, a measure of plane fullness, edged up 83.9% from 81.9%. Passenger revenue per available seat mile increased 2.2%.

The company earned a profit of $37 million, or 22 cents a share, up from $18 million, or 11 cents a share. Adjusted earnings increased to 26 cents a share, up from 13 cents a share, beating estimates of 19 cents on revenue of $3.28 billion.

US Airways’ net profit for the full year soared to $637 million, up from $71 million in 2011. It was the highest annual profit in the company’s history.

“We couldn't be happier with the performance of US Airways in 2012,” US Airways chairman and CEO Doug Parker said in a statement, adding that the airline posted record highs in on-time performance. “We enter 2013 with great momentum and enthusiasm and are well positioned for whatever may lie ahead.”

US Airways is considering a possible merger with American Airlines parent company AMR Corp., which filed for bankruptcy in November 2011. AMR, while also open to a merger, may emerge from bankruptcy through a standalone restructuring.

Shares of US Airways were trading higher on the news, up 65 cents, or 4.38%, in pre-market trading Wednesday.

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