Southwest Earnings Up 83% On Lower Fuel Prices

Southwest Airlines Co. posted an 83% jump in third-quarter profit, boosted by lower fuel prices and cost controls, the company said in a release on Thursday. The cut-rate airline posted third-quarter earnings per share of 88 cents, compared to 48 cents in the year-ago period. Total operating revenue for the period rose 10.8% to $5.32 billion, compared to $4.8 billion in the year-ago period. But earnings still fell short of the 92 cents that analysts polled by FactSet were expecting. The company edged past revenue expectations of $5.13 billion. Gary C. Kelly, chief executive officer of SouthWest, said solid overall revenue performance, helped by the company's Rapid Rewards program, also helped the quarter. The company recorded an all-time quarter record load factor of 85.4% for the third quarter. Fuel costs in the third quarter fell nearly $300 million on an annual basis, he said. And he expects full-year fuel costs to fall $1.3 billion, year over year. Southwest is expecting an increase to fourth-quarter 2015 unit revenue of around 1%, year over year.

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