Southwest (LUV) earnings 3Q 2022

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A Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 passenger jet pushes back from a gate at Midway International Airport (MDW) in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.

Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines on Thursday joined other airlines in forecasting that strong travel demand will continue but warned that delays in new aircraft deliveries from Boeing could persist into 2024.

The airline reported a $277 million profit in the third quarter on record revenue of $6.22 billion, up nearly 33% from last year, despite an $18 million impact from Hurricane Ian. Southwest’s shares were up 4% in premarket trading after releasing results.

Here’s how Southwest performed in the third quarter, compared with Wall Street expectations according to Refinitiv consensus estimates:

  • Adjusted earnings per share: 50 cents vs. an expected 42 cents.
  • Total revenue: $6.22 billion vs. an expected $6.21 billion.

Airlines this month have forecast further strength in bookings through at least the end of the year. Record revenues have helped carriers cover higher costs, a reversal for one of the hardest-hit sectors in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Southwest forecast a jump in revenue for the last three months of the year of between 13% and 17%, compared with 2019 levels. It expects capacity to be down about 2% from three years earlier.

The Dallas-based airline said it expects unit costs excluding oil to be down next year compared with full-year 2022, but said that pilot shortages are limiting flying, which keeps costs up.

For the fourth quarter, it said unit costs would be up 14% to 18% from 2019.

Supply chain problems, labor shortages and training backlogs have hindered airplane manufacturers from ramping up production to meet the travel boom, capping airlines’ growth, a factor that could keep airfares elevated.

Boeing’s CFO Brian West said on an earnings call Wednesday that the company expects to deliver about 375 of its best-selling 737 Max planes this year, down from its January prediction of about 500 planes.

Southwest said it will likely increase capacity 10% from 2022 during the first quarter of 2023 and 14% in the second quarter.

The airline said “uncertainty around the timing of aircraft deliveries” is prompting it to remain cautious on its “2023 capacity plan with a goal to have sufficient aircraft to operate our 2023 flight schedules, as originally published, in an effort to enhance operational reliability.”



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