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Alaska Airlines

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beat fourth-quarter estimates and said it will order 15 new Boeing aircraft.

The carrier reported net income excluding items of $47.4 million, or $1.28 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated $1.02. Revenue rose 13% to $959 million. Analysts had estimated $944 million. In the same period a year earlier, excluding items, Alaska earned $4.4 million or 12 cents a share.

Including items related to fuel hedging, Alaska earned $64.8 million or $1.75 a share, compared with $24.1 million or 67 cents in the same quarter a year earlier.

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Meanwhile, Alaska said it had ordered 15 Boeing 737s including 13 737-900 extended range aircraft, for delivery in 2012 through 2014. It will configure the aircraft with 178 to 184 seats in two classes.


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said the list price value of the order is $1.3 billion.

Alaska also said it will retire the Horizon brand on its regional operation, replacing it with the Alaska brand including the Eskimo on planes' tails.

During the quarter, mainline capacity rose 9.9%. Passenger revenue per available seat mile rose 6.3%. Results "were driven by strong revenue growth, excellent cost management, an on-time operation, and promising new markets, "said CEO Bill Ayer, in a prepared statement.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte

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Ted Reed