Southwest post gains in pre-tax 4Q and full year income, seeks more 737-800s

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Southwest recorded solid gains in both its pre-tax fourth quarter and full-year 2010 income as last year marked the carrier's 38th consecutive year of profitability.

The carrier's pre-tax fourth quarter income increased from $185 million to $213 million, while full-year income increased from $99 million to $459 million.

Southwest's fourth quarter operating revenues increased from $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion, and full-year revenues grew from $10.4 billion to $12.1 billion.

Operating expenses in the fourth quarter increased from $2.5 billion to $2.9 billion, while full-year expenses grew from $10.1 billion to $11.1 billion.

Southwest also posted increases in its fourth quarter operating income $167 million to $216 million. Full year operating income grew significantly from $262 million to $988 million.

Southwest has revised its 2011 Boeing narrowbody delivery schedule, and now plans to take three additional Boeing 737-700s this year for a total of 19, and 20 737-800s in 2012. The carrier also states it is evaluating substituting -800s in lieu of the 71 -700s scheduled for delivery from 2013 through 2016.

Southwest in December firmed plans to substitute 20 firm -700 orders for the -800 with deliveries beginning in 2012.

Dallas-based Southwest ended 2010 with $1.3 billion in cash.