Frontier Airlines Posts Small Profit in 1Q

Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc. said late Thursday it swung to a profit in the first quarter, crediting higher passenger traffic and cost-containment in non-fuel operations.

Frontier President and CEO Jeff Potter said he was pleased since the carrier also saw its fuel costs climb 30 percent in the quarter.

"It is only the beginning as we put forth every effort possible to return to sustained profitability in fiscal year 2007," Potter said in a statement.

Frontier, which faces stiff competition at its Denver International Airport hub from United Airlines and Southwest Airlines, became the latest in a string of airlines reporting stronger quarterly performances.

Frontier released results after the market closed, reporting net income of $4 million, or 10 cents a share, in the quarter ending June 30. That compared with a net loss of $2.7 million, or 8 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2005, which included a $3.3 million one-time related to aircraft leases.

Revenue totaled $302 million, up from $236 million in the year-ago quarter. Passenger revenue rose 29 percent and the load factor - the number of available seats that are filled - was 82 percent.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial had forecast a profit of 4 cents a share.

Costs were reduced in a year-over-year comparison because Frontier eliminated expenses incurred when the airline switched from Boeing to Airbus aircraft, Chief Financial Officer Paul Tate said.

Executives remain concerned about fuel costs. "Until things start to permanently slow down in terms of these fuel increases we have to constantly look at ways to offset the damage those fuel increases do," Tate said.

Other airlines that reported stronger second-quarter performances included Southwest Airlines, the parent of American Airlines and US Airways Group Inc. UAL Corp., which operates United Airlines, has said it expects to report strong second-quarter earnings.

Before Frontier's earnings were released, airline industry analyst Mike Boyd of The Boyd Group said the industry's overall quarterly results reflect a stronger economy, more passengers per airplane and higher fares.

Frontier flies from Denver to 47 destinations in the United States, five cities in Mexico and one city in Canada.

Ahead of the report, Frontier shares fell 3 cents to close at $6.41 Thursday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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