U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines Co said on Thursday that quarterly profit rose as fuel costs fell and higher airfares bolstered revenue.

Though the two-week U.S. government shutdown earlier this month hurt demand, holiday bookings look strong, the airline said.

Net income was $259 million, or 37 cents a share, in the third quarter, compared with $16 million, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier.

LUV Chart

LUV data by YCharts

Excluding special items, the company said profit was 34 cents a share, in line with what analysts had expected on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quarterly revenue rose 5.5 percent to $4.5 billion.

Operating costs fell 2 percent as fuel and oil expenses declined 5 percent. Costs tied to plane repair and maintenance fell nearly 10 percent.

Copyright (2013) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions

Photo Credit: Southwest Airlines is ready to celebrate its first minute of freedom from the Wright Amendment at Dallas Love Field, even though it's a year away. The Dallas-based airline is unveiling a countdown clock today at its headquarters, reminding employees, passengers and North Texans that starting on Oct. 13, 2014, it will be able to fly nonstop anywhere in the U.S. from its Love Field home. Joyce Marshall / Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT