Only a true lunatic could like the airline business. Maybe that's why I like Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines, and Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines
In Southwest's case, it seems like the turbulence in the American airline industry isn't really making a dent. And why should it? Southwest is the acknowledged champion of low-fare air travel; the likes of AMR
For this fourth quarter, Southwest saw operating revenue rise more than 20% as the company flew more flights, filled more seats, and charged more for it. Revenue passenger miles rose more than 15%, and the revenue yield climbed more than 4%. With available seat miles rising a little less than 8%, the load factor climbed 4.6 points to 69.6.
Despite fuel costs that rose nearly 39% per gallon (with hedging), operating income growth still surpassed revenue at almost 36%. That's pretty impressive, not only because it demonstrates excellent cost control, but because the company got saddled with a $24 million retroactive bill from the Transportation Safety Administration.
To be fair, Southwest isn't the only competently run airline -- I'd be remiss not to point out operators like British Airways
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).