US Airways says fourth-quarter profit more than doubled over 2011

Posted: January 25, 2013

US Airways Group, which is in talks with bankrupt American Airlines about a possible merger, said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled on stronger demand, fuller planes, and higher revenue.

US Airways CEO Doug Parker declined to take questions about a potential merger, citing a nondisclosure agreement that prevents the parties from commenting.

Excluding onetime items, earnings more than doubled to $46 million, or 26 cents a share, from $21 million, or 13 cents, a year earlier. Analysts' average estimate was 19 cents. Revenue rose 3.9 percent to a record $3.3 billion.

"I've been in the airline business now for 26 years, and been the CEO for over 11 of those," Parker said on a conference call. "This is unquestionably the best all-around performance I've seen by an airline team. We're extremely well-prepared for whatever may lie ahead."

For the full year, Philadelphia's largest carrier reported the highest annual profit in the company's history - $537 million, or $2.79 a share, excluding special items, compared to $111 million, or 68 cents a share, in 2011.

Including one-time items, net profit was $637 million, or $3.28 a share, up 797 percent from $71 million, or 44 cents a share, in 2011. Revenue was up 5.9 percent to $13.8 billion.

On Tuesday, US Airways and the City of Philadelphia announced a two-year airport-lease extension that will allow for $734 million in improvements at Philadelphia International Airport.

A new runway along the Delaware River was not among the projects in the lease, which runs through June 30, 2015.

Airlines, which would foot much of the bill, have said the benefit in reduced air-traffic congestion and passenger delays would not outweigh the cost of relocating United Parcel Service to a new air-freight hub and extending one end of the runway into the Delaware.

If there were a merger with American, creating the world's largest airline by passenger traffic, Parker was asked Wednesday, would a fifth runway in Philadelphia be needed?

"All the airlines that serve the city are interested in working together to make that airport as strong as it possibly can be," he replied. The lease "gets us to the next couple of years, and we'll have bigger decisions to make in the future. This gives us time to work together and make sure we are all on the same page."

Afterward, Stephen Johnson, US Airways executive vice president, said the airline had agreed to "a detailed process" for studying the runway, including working with the project manager "to better understand the sequencing and costs, and the timing when a runway would be necessary."

"We understand the city's interest in a new runway," Johnson said. "We recognize that a new runway could work in the future. But we need to understand better how much it is going to cost, the extent to which we can alleviate the air-space congestion and make a new runway productive, and what the timetable is for completion of that."


Contact Linda Loyd at 215-854-2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

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