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US Airways Looks Homeward

The carrier, coming off another quarterly loss, says it benefits from less exposure to international travel than other carriers.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Let's hear it for the good ol' U.S.A.

That is the view of

US Airways


, which says it is benefitting from a lack of international exposure.

For the first quarter, the company reported a net loss of $103 million or 90 cents a share, which it attributed to fuel heding. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated a loss of $2.38. Revenue declined 13.5% to $2.46 billion. Analysts had estimated $2.5 billion. In the same period a year earlier, the loss was $237 million or $2.58 a share.

"We are outperforming others, improving faster than the rest, (because) we just have less international exposure then they do," said CEO Doug Parker, on an earnings conference call. Among the benefits, he said, are more ability to collect baggage fees and other ancillary revenue, which is not available on international flights, and less exposure to the international air cargo business, which is showing declines of 30% or more at most international carriers.

Excluding net special credits of $157 million that primarily reflected unrealized fuel hedging gains, the company reported a net loss of $260 million or $2.28 per sahre. Excluding net special credits and other impacts from fuel hedging transactions, the loss was $63 million.

While mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile was down 10.9%, transatlantic PRASM was down about 20%, Parker noted. "Domestics like (






are doing so much better than others," he said.

AirTran has a handful of flights to Cancun while Southwest has no international flights. AirTran and



were the only two major carriers to report first quarter profits: JetBlue, like US Airways, is around 20% international. The legacy network carriers are around 40% international.

Among international destinations, Mexico has declined in popularity due to media coverage of drug-crime problems, President Scott Kirby said, while Hawaii is holding up well because, "People are now going to Hawaii instead of Europe and Mexico."

Looking ahead, while "the fare environment is still pretty ugly at the moment," airlines are generally filling seats, which may be a harbinger of a potential recovery, Kirby said. "Loads are still strong so hopefully that should lead to a better pricing environment down the road," he said. "When loads are low, there can always be one or two carriers that decide to discount to fill the empty space."

Like other carriers, US Airways is seeing a decline in business passengers, who book closer to departure, fly on weekdays and pay higher fares. So far, April RASM is down about 10%, Kirby said.