Southwest Q3 operating profit surges to $390m

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Southwest Airlines' third quarter operating profit surged to $390 million, compared with the $51 million operating profit it posted a year ago.

Operating revenue grew 5.5% to $4.55 billion in a record for the quarter, and operating expenses declined 2.4% to $4.16 billion.

The Dallas-based low-fare carrier posted a record third quarter net income of $259 million, up from the $16 million net income it reported a year ago.

Passenger traffic declined 0.6% during the quarter while capacity rose 1%. The passenger load factor fell 1.3 percentage point to 80.8%.

Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) grew 5.1% to 12.88 cents, while cost per available seat mile (CASM) excluding fuel declined 1.9% to 8.09 cents.

During the quarter, Southwest placed one new Boeing 737-800 and two used 737-700s into service and retired four 737-500s. It also transitioned the first of subsidiary AirTran's 88 Boeing 717s to Delta Air Lines, and removed 11 more 717s from active service to prepare for the transition.