Soaring jet fuel costs led Tempe-based US Airways to a $79 million loss for the fourth quarter.
That’s compared with a profit of $12 million for the same period in 2006.
Annually, the company fared better. US Airways reported a full-year profit of $427 million, or $4.52 per share.
Fourth-quarter fuel expenses would have been $230 million lower at prices of a year earlier, CEO Doug Parker said Thursday in a conference call to discuss the airline’s financial results.
The future isn’t looking particularly rosy, either.
“It’s looking to be a difficult year,” Parker said. “Fuel expenses could be $800 million more than in 2007, and the slowing economy gives us concern about passing that on to customers.”
But Parker said US Airways is in good health and has $3 billion in cash to help withstand a down cycle.
There was some good news. So far, US Airways hasn’t noticed a decline in bookings due to a slowing economy, said President Scott Kirby.
Kirby also said the airline has made significant strides in improving operations, achieving the best on-time performance of the six biggest U.S. carriers in December.
Parker was less communicative about the potential outcomes from a flurry of merger talks spawned by the airline industry’s financial woes. And he wouldn’t say whether US Airways is in talks with any other carriers about a possible hookup.
Parker said if Delta Air Lines works out a deal — ”And I don’t think Delta has any choice at this point,” he said — more will follow.
“Something is going to happen here, and all the big six (U.S. airlines) are going to participate,” he said.