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Does US Airways' Strong Quarter Help Merger Case?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- US Airways (LCC) beat analysts' estimates as costs fell and operational performance remained strong.

Excluding items, the carrier reported net profit of $192 million, or 98 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated 92 cents. Revenue rose 2.8% to $3.5 billion, in line with estimates.

Excluding items, the profit was the second highest for the third quarter in company history. In the same period a year earlier, excluding items, US Airways earned $95 million, or 51 cents a share. Including items, US Airways earned $245 million, or $1.24 a share in the third quarter of 2012.

CEO Doug Parker said strong operations and record operational reliability "is driving strong customer demand and keeping costs in check, resulting in outstanding financial performance." In July, US Airways ranked No. 1 in on-time performance among the four network carriers. Looking ahead, Parker said, "The revenue environment remains strong."

The quarter's strong results could help to buttress the carrier's continuing argument that its management could optimize results at bankrupt American Airlines (AAMRQ.PK), which is resisting US Airways merger efforts. But American also had a strong quarter, reporting a net profit of $110 million and a passenger revenue per available seat mile gain of 4.3%, against weak comparisons, which led the industry.

"Our financial results are impressive given where we are in the (bankruptcy) process, and the momentum that has been built in the company goes far beyond that," said AMR Chief Financial Officer Bella Goren, in a recent interview with TheStreet.

During the quarter, US Airways RASM rose a scant 0.1% to a record 15.22 cents, driven by a 0.6 gain in yield. Capacity rose 2.7%. On the cost side, mainline cost per available seat mile excluding fuel, special charges and profit sharing fell 1.4% to 7.95 cents.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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