CHARLOTTE, N.C. --

US Airways

(LCC)

said fuel price volatility led to a widened fourth-quarter loss.

Excluding special charges, the loss was $220 million, or $1.93 a share, vs. a loss of $42 million, or 45 cents a share, in the year ago period. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated a loss of $2.15.

With special charges of $321 million, including $234 million for unrealized fuel hedging losses, the company lost $541 million or $4.74 a share, vs. a loss of $79 million, or 87 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

"Like other airlines that have reported before us, our financial results reflect the staggering increase in fuel prices that we faced throughout most of 2008," said CEO Doug Parker, in a prepared statement. For the year, 2008 fuel prices, including hedging gains and losses exceeded 2007 costs by $1.4 billion, he said.

"The impact of high oil prices acted as a catalyst for airlines to take unprecedented measures to bring the supply of seats back into balance with passenger demand," Parker said. "We believe these actions have significantly softened the blow from the economic downturn that we as an industry now face."

For the quarter, consolidated mainline passenger revenue per available seat mile rose 1.6% on a capacity decrease of 5.1%. On the cost side, mainline cost per available seat mile, excluding fuel and other special items, rose 5% to 8.49 cents on a 5.9% increase in mainline capacity.

For the full year, excluding special charges of $1.4 billion, US Airways reported a net loss of $803 million or $8.01 a diluted share, vs. a profit of $440 million, or $4.65 a diluted share in 2007. The charges included $496 million of unrealized fuel hedging losses and $622 million to write off goodwill created by the 2005 merger of US Airways and America West.

With items, the company reported a 2008 net loss of $2.2 billion, vs. a profit of $427 million in 2007.