Alaska Air 2nd-quarter Profit Triples on Strong Passenger Traffic

Alaska Air Group Inc., operator of carriers Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, said Tuesday second-quarter profit more than tripled on a 14 percent rise in revenue, even as it continues to face the high fuel prices that have plagued the airline industry.

Net income for the quarter was $55.5 million, or $1.38 per share, up from $17.4 million, or 56 cents per share last year. Revenue for the quarter was $873 million, up from $765.5 million last year. Excluding certain items, such as a charge related to a ratified flight attendants' contract, the company would have earned $60.3 million, or $1.50 per share, up from a comparable $24.7 million, or 78 cents per share, last year.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected the company to report, on average, earnings of $1.29 per share on $854.5 million in revenue.

"We are extremely pleased with this quarter's earnings, which were the result of a combination of revenue gains and cost improvements," said Bill Ayer, chairman and chief executive officer.

Fuel costs jumped to $199.8 million from $147.7 million. Passenger traffic rose 7.2 percent at Alaska Air and 11.3 percent at Horizon Air.

Shares of Alaska Air rose 76 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $36.66 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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