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US Airways 4Q profit doubles as planes are fuller

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 23, 2013 at 9:09 pm •  Published: January 23, 2013

US Airways carried 82.5 million passengers last year, compared to 140 million for the biggest airline, United.Its hubs in Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Charlotte, N.C., are smaller than the big cities dominated by its larger competitors. But those hubs are profitable, its fuel costs have been slightly below those of its competitors and its labor costs are lower.

A merger between US Airways, the fifth-largest U.S. airline by passenger traffic, and No. 3 American would make the pair equal in size to United. Some analysts believe US Airways needs the merger to survive. But J.P. Morgan analyst Jamie Baker wrote in a note to investors Wednesday that he disagrees.

"With 2012 margins just shy of Delta while topping those of Southwest and United, we find investor stand-alone pessimism to be significantly misplaced," he wrote.

Shares of Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc. rose 22 cents, or 1.5 percent, to close at $15.07 after rising as high as $15.64. CEO Doug Parker said US Airways shares rose 166 percent last year, more than any other Fortune 500 company.

For the full year, net income jumped to $637 million, or $3.28 per share — the largest profit in the airline's history, the company said. In 2011 it earned $71 million, or 44 cents per share. Revenue for 2012 rose almost 6 percent to $13.83 billion.