The Dallas-based carrier reported net income rose 171 percent to $212 million in the quarter as revenues grew 6 percent to $4.4 billion.
“While traffic was impacted at the beginning of the quarter by the federal government shutdown, we saw a healthy rebound in traffic and revenue trends,” Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly sad in a statement Thursday morning. “Strong travel demand and favorable year-over-year unit revenues have continued in January, thus far. And, bookings for the remainder of the first quarter are strong.”
The airline said its average passenger fare increased 5.4 percent to $156.05 and it had over 33 million enplaned passengers, up 1.3 percent for the quarter. It also added capacity to its network, up 2.2 percent, and planes were slightly fuller with the load factor up 0.8 percentage points to 80.4 percent.
Southwest said it paid less for fuel in the fourth quarter, about $3.05 per gallon, compared to $3.32 per gallon in the fourth quarter of 2012. The airline expects fuel costs to remain stable around $3.05 to $3.10 per gallon in the first quarter.
Excluding one-time accounting items, Southwest said its net income was $236 million, or 33 cents per share, beating Wall Street analysts’ estimates of 29 cents per share, according to FactSet Research.
For the full 2013 year, Southwest posted a $753 million profit, up 79 percent from 2012. Total revenues also grew 3.6 percent to $17.7 billion.
With the company’s strong financial performance, Southwest gave employees $228 million in 2013 as part of the airline’s profit sharing plan, up from $107 million in 2012.
Southwest executives will discuss the airline’s fourth quarter results on a webcast with Wall Street analysts and investors at 10:30 a.m. CDT.