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Oct 25 (Reuters) - Two smaller U.S. airlines, JetBlue Airways Corp and Alaska Air Group, posted higher third-quarter earnings on Thursday as a rise in passengers helped boost revenue.
JetBlue, based in New York, cited gains in business passengers even as its average fare edged down. It reported net income of $45 million, or 14 cents a share, up from $35 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier.
Analysts expected 13 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 9 percent to $1.3 billion. Operating expenses were up nearly 10 percent, with fuel costs up about 6 percent and salaries and benefits costs up 11 percent. The average fare at JetBlue was $154.04, down 0.5 percent.
Seattle-based Alaska Air, the parent of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, reported what it called "the best quarterly profit" in its history.
It had earnings of $163.4 million, or $2.27 a share, compared with $77.5 million, or $1.06 a share, a year earlier. Excluding adjustments for fuel-hedge contracts, profit was $2.09 a share, a penny better than analysts expected.
Revenue rose 6 percent to $1.27 billion. Operating expenses fell about 5 percent, with fuel costs down nearly 20 percent and wage and benefit costs up 4 percent.