GROWTH FOR SOUTHWEST DESPITE FUEL CHALLENGES

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore December 17, 2010 10:55

GROWTH FOR SOUTHWEST DESPITE FUEL CHALLENGES

Southwest Airlines chief Gary Kelly said that the carrier intends to drive growth via bigger aircraft and the purchase of AirTran Holdings in the face of rising fuel prices.

“The No. 1 challenge that the industry faces is energy costs,” said Kelly during an investor webcast. Southwest estimates fuel prices at about $2.50 a gallon for the current fourth quarter, rising to the $2.70-to-$2.75 range in 2011.

Kelly said with fuel prices continuing to rise airlines must scale back growth plans, keep more cash and less debt. As a result Southwest is cautious about buying back its own shares.

Southwest has forecast higher fourth-quarter revenue and states that passenger revenue per available seat mile is expected to rise also. The low cost airline, which operates only 737s, has confirmed it will buy bigger Boeing aircraft that will give it the potential to expand service to international destinations such as Central America and allow it to carry more passengers in gate-restricted US cities.

Dino D'Amore
By Dino D'Amore December 17, 2010 10:55
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