US Airways Restates Merger Focus While Beating Estimates

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( TheStreet) -- US Airways ( LCC) said it had record pretax earnings before a $120 million tax payment, and restated its continuing commitment to a merger with American ( AAMRQ).

Net income excluding special items was $241 million, or $1.16 per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had estimated $1.12. Including a $120 million non-cash provision for income taxes, the carrier earned $1.04 a share, or $216 million, down from $245 million in the same period a year earlier. On a pretax basis, US Airways earned a record $336 million including special items or $367 million excluding items.

Revenue rose 9.1% to $3.9 billion. Analysts had estimated $3.8 billion.

On the merger front, US Airways said it "continues to make significant progress in its merger integration planning with American" and that "both companies are preparing for a vigorous defense of the merger, with the trial scheduled to begin on Nov. 25." The U.S. Justice Department opposes the planned merger of the third- and fifth-biggest U.S. airlines.

"We are extremely pleased to report a record pretax profit in the third quarter," said CEO Doug Parker, in a prepared statement. "These outstanding results are occurring as our teams continue intensive integration planning work in preparation for our merger with American Airlines.

"Our hardworking team members, along with their colleagues at American, remain committed to building a combined airline that can compete in the global marketplace," Parker said. "We are eager to present our case and are grateful for the enthusiasm and support our merger continues to receive."

During the quarter, capacity grew 4.1%. Revenue per available seat mile rose 4.9% to a record 15.97 cents. On the cost side, mainline cost per available seat mile excluding fuel and special items grew 1.7% to 8.08 cents. As of Sept. 30, the company had $3.9 billion in total cash and investments, up $1.1 billion from the same period a year earlier. Mainline special items in the third quarter included nearly $40 million in merger costs.

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

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Ted Reed

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