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(Corrects dateline to April 26)
April 26 (Reuters) - U.S. carrier Alaska Air Group Inc on Wednesday reported a 46.2 percent fall in quarterly profit as its operating expenses swelled and average fares declined.
Net income fell to $99 million, or 79 cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $184 million, or $1.46 per share, a year earlier. Excluding items, the company earned $1.05 cents per share, outperforming the analyst consensus estimate of $1.01, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Alaska Air in December of last year acquired rival carrier Virgin America Inc in a $2.6 billion deal, making the Seattle-based company the fifth largest U.S. airline by passenger traffic. The first quarter totals reflect Virgin America results, as well.
Passenger unit revenue, which compares sales to how many seats an airline flies and how far it flies them, fell 4.9 percent.
Total operating revenue rose 29.8 percent to $1.75 billion, short of the analyst consensus estimate of $ 1.76 billion.
Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru and Alana Wise in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Chizu Nomiyama