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Southwest posts record $453 million first quarter profit

Southwest Airlines boosted its first quarter earnings as it continued to add more flights to Dallas Love Field following the expiration of the Wright Amendment restrictions last fall. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis)
Southwest Airlines boosted its first quarter earnings as it continued to add more flights to Dallas Love Field following the expiration of the Wright Amendment restrictions last fall. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis) Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines posted a record first quarter profit of $453 million, boosted by its new flights out of Dallas Love Field.

The Dallas-based carrier said revenues grew six percent to $4.41 billion for the quarter and customer demand remained strong. With the expiration of the Wright Amendment restrictions last fall, Southwest has grown from 115 daily flights to currently 166 daily flights.

“The customer response to our new Dallas Love Field service, which represents the majority of 2015 year-over-year [capacity] growth, is very strong, and first quarter 2015 Dallas traffic has increased 145.5 percent from year-ago levels,” said Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly in a statement.

Kelly said the company had fuller planes with an 80.1 percent load factor for the quarter. The airline grew its capacity by 6 percent in the first quarter and carried 5.5 percent more passengers.

Low fuel costs also helped Southwest’s financial performance. The carrier said it paid an average of $2.00 per gallon of jet fuel compared to $3.08 per gallon in the first quarter of 2014.

With its record profits, Southwest announced it will pay out $126 million in profit-sharing to its employees for the quarter.

Excluding one-time accounting items, Southwest reported a net income of 66 cents per share, beating Wall Street analysts’ estimates of 55 cents per share.

Company executives plan to discuss the first quarter earnings on a conference call with investors at 11:30 a.m. CDT.

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