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Southwest Airlines caps record 2016 by boosting dividend 25 percent

Southwest Airlines told shareholders on Wednesday that it’s boosting its quarterly dividend by 25 percent.
Southwest Airlines told shareholders on Wednesday that it’s boosting its quarterly dividend by 25 percent. Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines announced a 25 percent increase to its quarterly dividend on Wednesday as it gathered with shareholders for its annual meeting.

The Dallas-based carrier said it will pay a dividend of 12.5 cents a share, up from 10 cents a share, starting with its June payment.

Southwest’s chief executive Gary Kelly announced the news at the shareholder meeting being held this year in Phoenix, where the carrier has 4,500 employees. Kelly said 2016 was another record year for the company in terms of passenger traffic, load factor and revenues despite more competition from rivals such as American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

“Our competitors are finally doing well and we’re facing significant competition all over the country and we welcome it,” Kelly said.

For 2016, Southwest’s net income rose 2.9 percent to $2.24 billion while revenues increased 3.1 percent to $20.4 billion. Shares of Southwest have risen 15 percent since the beginning of the year.

Last week, Southwest transitioned to a new reservations system which Kelly said went “exceptionally well.”

The carrier also announced that its board authorized the repurchase of an additional $2 billion in stock as it completed the previous $2 billion repurchase program in May.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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