Brazil’s Gol reverses fourth quarter losses

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Brazilian carrier Gol reversed a fourth quarter loss year-over-year, posting net income of R$398 million (US$225 million).

That compares with a R$542 million loss for the fourth quarter of 2008.

The carrier posted a fourth quarter operating income before taxes R$119 million, resulting in an operating margin of 7.4% compared with an operating margin of 3.5% and operating income of R$54 million for the year prior.

Gol's operating expenses grew 0.2% year-over-year to R$1.5 billion for the fourth quarter largely due to non-recurring expenses of R$73 million. Excluding those expenses, Gol says its expenses in the fourth quarter fell 4.6% year-over-year.

During the fourth quarter Gol took delivery of five Boeing 737-800s to replace two 737-300 classics and four 737-800s that were retired during the quarter. Gol closed 2009 with a fleet of 108 aircraft, with an average fleet age of 6.3 years.

The company ended the year with R$1.4 billion in cash.