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AirTran reports 2008 net loss despite 4th quarter recovery

28th January 2009 - 12:19 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


AirTran Holdings, Inc, the parent company of AirTran Airways, has reported a net loss of $273.8 million for the full year 2008, which included non-operating losses of $150.8 million related to changes in fair value on the company's out-of-the-money fuel hedge contracts. During the fourth quarter, AirTran unwound approximately 78% of its 2009 fuel hedge contracts in order to mitigate the potential for additional losses on further oil price declines.

For the fourth quarter, AirTran reported a net loss of $118.4 million, which also included non-operating losses of $147.7 million related to fuel hedge contracts. AirTran ended the fourth quarter with $340.5 million in unrestricted cash and investments, its highest year-end balance since 2005.

AirTran says the fourth quarter results demonstrate the benefits of its plan for adapting to the year's high-cost energy environment, the unrest in the capital markets, and an uncertain economy. In the second quarter of 2008, the company initiated steps to position the airline to react to such challenges by enhancing the airline's liquidity and reducing capacity and capital expenditures aggressively through the disposition of aircraft and the deferral of Boeing 737 deliveries while sustaining a low-cost structure. These actions combined with the recent decline in fuel prices resulted in a record fourth quarter operating income of $54.9 million on record fourth quarter revenues of $589.4 million.

"2008 was an especially tough and challenging year," said Bob Fornaro, AirTran Airways' chairman, president and chief executive officer. "We thank our dedicated, hard-working crew members and our loyal customers for helping us overcome the many obstacles we faced in 2008. Despite the industry challenge shifting from high oil costs to concerns regarding consumer demand, our 2008 initiatives have us well positioned to return to profitability in 2009."

The Shephard News Team


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