US Airways Beats Estimates, Sees Strong Demand

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- US Airways ( LCC) reported a first-quarter loss but beat estimates and said demand remains strong.

Excluding items, the carrier reported a net loss of $22 million, or 13 cents a share. Analysts had estimated a loss of 22 cents. Revenue rose 10.3% to $3.3 billion. Analysts had estimated $3.2 billion.

Including items, primarily a $73 million credit related to a slot exchange with Delta ( DAL), offset by a $3 million special operating charge, US Airways reported a profit of $48 million, or 28 cents a share, compared to a loss of $114 million, or 71 cents a share, in the same quarter a year earlier. A remaining $74 million credit related to the slot exchange is expected to be recognized in the third quarter.

"We are pleased to report significantly improved first quarter financial results in spite of record high fuel prices," said CEO Doug Parker, in a prepared statement. "Consumer demand for our product remains very high, resulting in record high first quarter revenue, load factor, yield and PRASM."

The carrier said fuel costs rose by $133 million compared with the same quarter a year earlier. Looking ahead, Parker said US Airways is "encouraged with the overall strength in passenger demand. "

Earlier Wednesday, Delta, like US Airways, reported strong current quarter demand and indicated it would have reported a profitable first quarter but for fuel cost increases.

During the first quarter, total revenue per available seat mile rose 7.1% to a record 15.45 cents, driven by a record first quarter load factor of 79.3%, up 1.3 points, and a 6.5% gain in passenger yield. On the cost side, mainline cost per available seat mile excluding fuel and special charges fell by 0.6%.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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