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Southwest Airlines posts record profit buoyed by low oil prices

A Southwest Airlines aircraft takes off at Dallas Love Field. The Dallas-based carrier reported a record third quarter profit.
A Southwest Airlines aircraft takes off at Dallas Love Field. The Dallas-based carrier reported a record third quarter profit. Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines reported record $584 million third-quarter income as it paid less for fuel and filled its planes with more passengers than ever before.

The Dallas-based carrier said its revenues grew 10.8 percent to $5.3 billion for the third quarter.

It also posted a record 85.4 percent load factor and passengers' average trip length also increased 1 percent.

“We are very pleased with the strength of our network, especially considering our uncharacteristically high percentage of markets under development,” Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly said in a statement. “Our new Dallas markets, in particular, continue to perform exceptionally well, including the eight new markets launched in August 2015.”

Southwest currently operates 180 daily flights at Love Field, up from 118 daily flights last October prior to the lifting of the Wright Amendment restrictions.

But while Southwest carried 7.6 percent more passengers in the third quarter, the average fare dropped 4 percent to $154.33.

The airline saved almost $300 million in fuel costs, paying $2.20 per gallon, down from $2.94 per gallon in the third quarter of 2014. It expects fuel to cost between $2.05 to $2.10 per gallon in the fourth quarter.

Southwest executives will discuss the airline's third-quarter results on a conference call with investors at 11:30 a.m. CDT.

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