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US Airways executives said Wednesday that they’re forging ahead with planning for a merger with American Airlines, even as the government tries to block the combination.
The airline, Charlotte’s primary carrier, reported its third quarter profit slipped 12 percent to $216 million, mostly due to higher income tax expenses compared to last year. Revenue was up 9.1 percent, to $3.9 billion, a record for US Airways.
“These outstanding results are occurring as our teams continue intensive integration planning work in preparation for our merger with American Airlines,” said US Airways CEO Doug Parker, who is slated to run the combined airline if the merger wins approval.
“Our hardworking team members, along with their colleagues at American, remain committed to building a combined airline that can compete in the global marketplace,” said Parker. “We are eager to present our case and are grateful for the enthusiasm and support our merger continues to receive.”
US Airways executives had expected their last quarterly earnings announcement three months ago to be the company’s finale as a standalone business, as they anticipated closing the merger last month.
But the U.S. Department of Justice unexpectedly sued to block the merger on antitrust grounds, saying it would stifle competition. A trial is due to start Nov. 25 in which a federal judge will decide whether to let the merger proceed.
US Airways said it incurred about $40 million worth of merger-related costs during the third quarter.
The effects of airlines keeping a tight check on capacity and strong travel demand were evident in US Airways’ quarterly results. The airline said 85.5 percent of seats were full on its planes during the third quarter, its highest-ever “load factor.”
US Airways also benefited from a slight drop in jet fuel prices, which fell almost 2 percent, to an average of 3.01 cents a gallon. The airline burned 392 million gallons of fuel during the quarter.
Charlotte’s unusually rainy and stormy weather hurt the airline’s performance this summer, US Airways said. The company operates its busiest hub at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, with more than 600 flights a day.
“Weather-related delays experienced in the month of July were some of the highest in our Company’s history. In Charlotte, rain fell for 19 consecutive days from late June through mid-July,” US Airways said. On-time performance fell to 74 percent in July, but recovered to 88.3 percent in September.
US Airways is hosting a webcast to discuss its results at 12:30 p.m. You can listen online here. ___