Alaska Air Group posts loss, but plans to add new routes

Photo/Lisa Siefert/For the Journal
SEATTLE -- More than $50 million in aid from the government’s airline bailout package wasn’t enough to keep Alaska Air Group profitable, as the company reported a wider loss for the fourth quarter.

Hurt by the decline in air travel since Sept. 11, the parent company for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said Jan. 18 it had a net loss of $36.4 million, or $1.37 per share, for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $28.9 million, or $1.09 per share, a year ago.

The results included $52.3 million in pretax funding from the government’s airline bailout package and a $10.2 million charge to retire Horizon’s fleet of F-28 aircraft. Excluding those one-time items, the company lost $62.9 million, or $2.37 per share, in the quarter.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting a loss of $2.21 per share for the quarter.

Revenue for the quarter was $462.2 million, compared with $532.4 million in the same period last year.

Despite the loss, Alaska officials said the company fared better than many in the airline industry. The company said traffic at Alaska was down 5.6 percent for the quarter, compared with 19 percent industrywide.

"The entire airline industry has been struggling in the wake of Sept. 11, but fortunately we’ve been much less impacted here on the West Coast," Alaska chairman and chief executive John F. Kelly said.

To date, the company has received $81.4 million in federal assistance. It has applied for an additional $12.3 million in assistance for 2002, the company said.

Kelly said there have been few layoffs and a slight increase in passenger loads. He said the company plans to have its schedule back to 100 percent by Feb. 10, and will add new routes on both airlines this year.

02/03/2002 - 8:00pm