US Airways profit triples; fares up, fuel down

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US Airways hit the airline jackpot in the second quarter — higher fares plus lower fuel prices. Its net income tripled to $306 million.

It wasn’t that the airline carried many more passengers. Traffic rose just a half-percent, US Airways reported on Wednesday. But those passengers paid 7.4 percent more to fly compared to the same period a year ago. Airlines raised fares in 2011 and early this year, and those higher fares paid off for US Airways during the quarter that ended June 30.

The airline’s fuel spending per gallon fell 3.5 percent from a year ago. Unlike other big airlines, US Airways doesn’t hedge fuel spending by betting on oil prices. That means it benefits right away when fuel and oil prices fall, as they did during the second quarter.

US Airways’ profit worked out to $1.54 a share. During the same period a year ago, US Airways earned $92 million, or 49 cents per share. Not counting special items, the company would have earned $1.61 per share in the recent quarter, 5 cents above what analysts surveyed by FactSet expected.

Revenue rose 7.2 percent to $3.75 billion, matching analysts’ expectations.

US Airways said the quarterly profit was its biggest since the 2005 combination of US Airways and America West, which created US Airways Group Inc. It was also bigger than any posted by either of those companies separately.

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