US Airways Group (LCC)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

October 27, 2011 12:00 pm ET


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Derek J. Kerr - Chief Financial officer, Chief Financial officer of America West Airlines Inc, Executive Vice President and Principal Accounting officer

William Douglas Parker - Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, Chairman of Labor Committee, Chairman of US Airways and Director of AWA

J. Scott Kirby - President

Daniel Cravens - Director of Investor Relations

Stephen L. Johnson - Executive Vice President of Corporate & Government Affairs and General Counsel


William J. Greene - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Josh Freed - Associated Press

Kevin Crissey - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Helane Becker - Dahlman Rose & Company, LLC, Research Division

Garrett L. Chase - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Hunter K. Keay - Wolfe Trahan & Co.

Mary Schlangenstein - Bloomberg News

Will Randow - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Michael Linenberg - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Jamie N. Baker - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Glenn D. Engel - BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division

Ted Reed -

Daniel McKenzie - Rodman & Renshaw, LLC, Research Division

Jeffrey A. Kauffman - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc., Research Division



Good day, and welcome to the US Airways Third Quarter Earnings Conference Call. Today's call is being recorded. [Operator Instructions] And now I'd like to turn the conference over to your moderator, Director of Investor Relations, Mr. Daniel Cravens. Please go ahead.

Daniel Cravens

Thank you. And welcome, everybody to the US Airways Third Quarter 2011 Earnings Conference call. In the room with us today in Phoenix are Doug Parker, our Chairman and CEO; Scott Kirby, our President; Derek Kerr, our Chief Financial Officer. And also in the room with us for our Q&A session are Robert Isom, our Chief Operating Officer; and Steve Johnson, our EVP of Corporate.

Like we typically do, we're going to start with Doug, and he will provide an overview of the third quarter financial results. Derek will then walk us through the details of the quarter including our cost and liquidity. Scott will follow with commentary on the revenue environment and our operational performance. And then after we hear from those comments, we will open the call for analyst's questions, and lastly, questions from the media.

But before we begin, we must state that today’s call does contain forward-looking statements, including statements concerning future revenues and fuel prices. These statements represent our predictions and expectations as to future events, but numerous risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Information about some of these risks and uncertainties can be found in our earnings release issued this morning, our Form 10-Q for the September 30 quarter, and also our 2010 Form 10-K.

In addition, we will be discussing certain non-GAAP financial measures this morning, such as net loss, CASM, excluding unusual items. A reconciliation of those numbers to the GAAP financial measures is included in the earnings release, and that can be found on our website at, under the Company Information/Investor Relations section. A webcast of this call is available on our website, and will be archived for approximately one month. The information that we're giving you on the call is as of today's date and we undertake no obligation to update the information subsequently.

Thanks again for joining us. At this point, I'd like to turn the call over to our Chairman and CEO, Doug Parker.

William Douglas Parker

Thank you, Dan. Thanks, everyone, for being on. As I'm sure you've seen by now, we reported net profit for the third quarter of $95 million. That is down from third quarter of 2010 profit of $243 million on the same basis. That decline probably really was driven by 44% increase in our average fuel price. Had average fuel prices remained at the third quarter 2010 levels, our third quarter 2011 fuel expense would've been approximately $360 million lower. So the fuel price increase alone drove an increase in our year-over-year expenses of $360 million, our net income declined by only $150 million. And that is due to some really nice work by our team.

In particular, our revenues were up 8% to a record $3.4 billion and our total revenue per ASM was up 9% to a record $0.1502. So while everyone continues to talk about economic weakness and uncertainty, we haven't seen it. And in fact, we are experiencing our company's best ever revenue performance both in total and per unit, and Scott will talk more about that in a minute.

We're also doing a really nice job of keeping our non-fuel expenses in check. Our unit cost, excluding fuel and special items was up only 1.7%, despite a 0.6% reduction in ASMs. And Derek will talk more about that and other financial issues in a moment.

But before I turn it over to Scott and Derek, I do want to talk about what these results say about our industry, and one continuing major threat to our industry. First of all, as I pointed out on our second quarter call, the fact that US Airways and most other airlines are able to produce profits with fuel prices this high, indicate how much progress our industry has made in the past few years. The average fuel price per gallon paid by US Airways in 2011 will be almost exactly the same as it was in one of our industry's worst year ever, 2008. In 2008, US Airways lost about $800 million. So far in 2011, we've made nearly $100 million. That major improvement is certainly not due to improvements in the global economy, it's been a lot of hard work at US Airways and a real industry transformation. Their consolidation, capacity constraint, cost control and management teams who care more but returns on invested capital than they do about growth or market share.

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