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Southwest Airlines to Add 18 Daily Flights

June 18, 2004|From Times Wire Services

In its biggest expansion since the 2001 terrorist attacks, Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday that it would add 18 daily flights in the third quarter, including several to California cities.

In addition, Dallas-based Southwest, the only major airline to remain profitable after the attacks worsened a business-travel slump, expects to post a second-quarter profit despite high fuel prices, Chief Executive Jim Parker said.

The carrier will add 13 daily flights Sept. 15 among various cities in its route system and will add five Oct. 4.

Among the additions will be flights from Phoenix to Oakland and Sacramento, from San Diego to Oakland and Sacramento and from Houston to Oakland. Southwest has more than 2,800 daily flights from 60 U.S. airports.

Parker, speaking to reporters during an in-flight news conference to mark the arrival of the company's 400th aircraft, also said he saw lower unit costs for the second half of 2004 than a year ago. Parker said that Southwest's costs probably peaked in the second quarter and that items such as increased productivity should push costs lower, despite record-high fuel prices.

"Unless something dramatic happens, we expect to make a profit in the second quarter," he said.

Southwest, the No. 6 U.S. airline, has been consistently profitable for 31 years. Analysts on average expect Southwest to post a profit of 16 cents a share for the second quarter, according to Reuters Estimates.

Parker said the airline saw a strong summer travel season, which should help boost revenue. He added that a pickup in economic activity earlier this year also had led to an increase in business travel.

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