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US Airways Latest Carrier to Post Loss

It also plans to reduce capacity.
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US Airways

(LCC)

said it lost money in the latest quarter due to high fuel costs and, like other carriers, announced plans to further reduce capacity.

The loss, excluding special items, was $239 million, or $2.60 a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had expected a loss of $2.64. Revenue rose 3.9% to $2.84 billion and met estimates.

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Fuel expenses were $260 million higher than a year earlier, when the carrier earned $34 million, or 37 cents a share, before items.

"The large losses posted by U.S. airlines this quarter, the forecast for further losses and the recent liquidations and bankruptcies of a number of carriers, indicate quite clearly that the U.S. airline industry is in financial turmoil," said CEO Doug Parker, in a prepared statement.

US Airways has discussed a merger with

UAL

(UAUA)

, which has also talked about combining with

Continental

(CAL) - Get Report

, say people familiar with the situation.

Those talks have gained urgency due to high oil prices and the planned merger of

Delta

(DAL) - Get Report

and

Northwest

(DAL) - Get Report

.

During the past week, all of the legacy carriers, including

AMR

(AMR)

, have announced capacity cuts and revenue initiatives intended to offset high fuel prices.

US Airways said it will take six Boeing 737-300 jets out of service in 2008 and 2009, leading to mainline capacity reductions of 2% to 4% in the second half of this year. Additionally, the carrier plans measures such as fees for excess checked baggage, which are expected to generate $100 million annually, and said it would eliminate some bargain fares.

For the quarter, mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile rose 3.7% on a 1.2% decline in capacity. Consolidated PRASM climbed 4.1%, on a 0.3% capacity drop.

Mainline cost per available seat mile, before fuel and other items, was up 8.8%, reflecting a higher number of engine overhauls, capacity cuts and added spending on airport customer service.

Meanwhile, US Airways amended its credit-card processing agreement so that its collateral level was reduced. As a result, $67 million is expected to be released from the reserve account this month.

"We have a strong relative liquidity position versus our peers and as a result of financing transactions completed since the merger

with America West, we do not have any material debt payments through 2013," said CFO Derek Kerr, in a prepared statement.