Alaska heats up

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Alaska Air Group had its best quarterly profit in history during the third quarter, according to company reports.

The airline holding company that owns Seattle’s Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air posted a third-quarter income of $150.3 million, or $2.09 a share. That amount excludes special items and compares to income of $131.1 million, or $1.79 a share, during the same period last year.

“Our pretax profit margin was one of the best in the industry, and it was made possible by the great service our people provide, low fares and strong demand. We recognize this is a difficult industry, but we’re committed to working together to sustain this high level of performance in the quarters and years ahead,” said Brad Tilden, Alaska Air Group chairman in a prepared statement.

According to news reports, the third quarter has typically been the best time of year for Alaska due to tourist traffic over the summer. Its operating revenues climbed 6.2 percent in the three months that ended Sept. 30, while operating expenses dropped 4.9 percent.

Other third-quarter highlights: The company announced a $250 million share repurchase program; received the 2012 Global Vision Award by Travel + Leisure magazine for its sustainability efforts; began service between Seattle and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Portland and Washington D.C., and Seattle and San Antonio; announced expanded service between Los Angeles and Anchorage starting summer 2013; and signed an aircraft purchase agreement with Boeing for 50 new 737 aircraft.

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