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Southwest Airlines posts record $536 million fourth-quarter earnings


Southwest Airlines said its net income nearly tripled as it earned $536 million in the fourth quarter.

The Dallas-based carrier said revenues grew 7.5 percent to $4.97 billion for the quarter as it carried more passengers and had fuller planes.

“Our network is performing well, and we are pleased with the investments we have made over the past couple of years, particularly at Dallas Love Field,” said chief executive Gary Kelly in a statement.

The airline has added dozens of new routes at Love Field after the Wright Amendment restrictions lifted in late 2014. Southwest currently operates 180 daily flights at Love Field.

During the quarter, Southwest also opened its new international terminal at Houston Hobby. Kelly said demand at Houston Hobby “has been encouraging.”

Although it carried almost 9 percent more passengers in the quarter, customers paid 5 percent less for airfares as Southwest reported an average airfare of $149.94, down from $158.06 in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Southwest executives will discuss its quarterly earnings on a conference call with investors at 11:30 a.m. CDT on Thursday.

Shares of Southwest [ticker: LUV] were up about 2 percent on Thursday morning, trading around $40.06 a share on the New York Stock Exchange.

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