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More top-performing CAPS members are feeling the love for Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV ) lately and have upgraded the airline from its long held two-star ranking to a more formidable three stars. A total of 1,145 members have rated Southwest Airlines, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.
Amid a slow 2008, Southwest has growth in mind for 2009. The low-cost operator looks to increase efficiency by adding more major airports and dropping slower ones, the way its recent pickings from bankrupt ATA Airlines landed it a spot at La Guardia airport. The recent drop in oil and fuel costs has also given Southwest, Continental (NYSE: CAL ) , US Airways (NYSE: LCC ) , and others some much-needed cost relief.
While most airlines like UAL's (Nasdaq: UAUA ) United, Delta (NYSE: DAL ) , and American Airlines (NYSE: AMR ) have been cutting their workforce, Southwest has been expanding its employee numbers, by 5.3% in October over last year. And it has been dropping fares, like JetBlue (Nasdaq: JBLU ) and Virgin America, to shore up more demand after a drop in passengers in November.
With Southwest's lean cost structure, many see the carrier as well-positioned to take advantage of the poor economy and slowing market. The third quarter marked Southwest's 70th consecutive quarter of operating profits, excluding special charges of its fuel hedge portfolio, and it generated record quarterly revenues of $2.9 billion, up 11.7% from last year.
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