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Originally published October 21, 2010 at 6:56 AM | Page modified October 22, 2010 at 9:34 AM

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Alaska Air's 3Q profit climbs nearly 40% to record

Alaska Air Group reported Thursday a nearly 40 percent profit increase in the third quarter, joining a line of airlines that have been enjoying...

Alaska Air Group reported Thursday a nearly 40 percent profit increase in the third quarter, joining a line of airlines that have been enjoying strong demand.

"We are pleased to report our best quarter ever, with record earnings driven by higher traffic and load factors," said Bill Ayer, chairman and CEO.

Net income rose to $122.4 million, or $3.32 a share, for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, from $87.6 million, or $2.46 a share, during the same period last year. Excluding special items, the profit would have been $118.1 million, or $3.21 a share.

Revenue for the Seattle-based air carrier, which operates Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, rose 10.3 percent to $1.07 billion from $967.4 million a year earlier.

The results beat the average estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who were expecting a profit of $3.11 a share on revenue of $1.06 billion.

Yield, or the amount passengers paid for each mile they flew, actually fell slightly to 13.96 cents a mile on Alaska Airlines. But occupancy, called load factor, rose 3 percentage points to 85.3 percent. And per-mile costs fell, too.

The company said it has prepaid $115.5 million in debt under a plan to pay off $200 million. It reported long-term debt of $1.4 billion, down from almost $1.7 billion a year earlier.

Alaska Air stock fell 14 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $49.27 Thursday.

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