PHOENIX, Jan. 23 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/—America West Holdings Corporation (NYSE: AWA), parent company of low-fare America West Airlines, Inc. and The Leisure Company, today reported a fourth quarter net loss of $32.5 million and a diluted loss per share of $0.96. For the same period a year ago, America West reported a net loss of $60.9 million, or $1.81 per share.
Excluding unusual items and year-over-year changes in accounting, the company`s net loss was $35.5 million or $1.05 per share in the fourth quarter of 2002 and $84.1 million or $2.49 per share in the fourth quarter of 2001. A reconciliation of the reported net loss to the net loss excluding unusual items is included on the attached statements of operations.
“America West`s financial results, although much improved, reflect the unprecedented and continued economic difficulties facing the airline industry,” said W. Douglas Parker, chairman and chief executive officer. “It is clear that the economic rebound we had hoped to see by this time has not yet materialized.”
Operating revenues for the quarter were $522 million, up 30.6 percent from the same period in 2001. Available seat miles (ASMs) increased 17.6 percent. Revenue passenger miles were 5.1 billion, up 25.7 percent from fourth quarter 2001, consistent with the increase in capacity. The airline`s passenger load factor for the quarter was 73.2 percent, up from 68.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001. Passenger yields increased 4.3 percent to 9.78 cents, and passenger revenue per available seat mile (RASM) improved 11.4 percent to 7.15 cents.
“America West`s 11.4 percent improvement in passenger RASM is well ahead of the industry average, and will likely represent the largest domestic RASM increase among all major airlines,” noted Parker. “This is the result of the business-friendly pricing structure we launched in March of 2002, and is an encouraging sign in an otherwise discouraging environment.”
Operating cost per available seat mile (CASM) for the fourth quarter of 2002 declined 10.7 percent, excluding special charges in 2001, to 7.98 cents, due primarily to a decrease in aircraft rents and travel agent commissions, partially offset by a 34.4 percent increase in fuel expenditures. Average fuel price excluding tax was 82.3 cents per gallon versus 71.8 cents in the fourth quarter of 2001. Excluding fuel and special charges, CASM decreased 14.2 percent.
America West continued to expand its popular low-fare service into markets nationwide during the fourth quarter. In October, the airline launched service between Phoenix and Medford, Ore., Billings, Mont., Pittsburgh and Calgary. Additionally, in December, America West launched service between Phoenix and Washington D.C. Dulles; Phoenix and Toronto; and Las Vegas and Toronto. The low-fare carrier also announced during the quarter that it would begin service to Memphis in April 2003.
For the full year 2002, America West reported a loss before the cumulative effect of a change in accounting principle of $157.9 million or $4.68 per diluted share, as revenues for the full year decreased a modest 0.9 percent to $2.05 billion. The company recognized a $272 million write-down of Excess Reorganization Value in the first quarter of 2002 upon the mandatory adoption of a new accounting standard for intangible assets. Including the effect of the accounting change, America West`s net loss for 2002 was $430.2 million, or $12.75 per share.
America West continued its dramatic climb in operating performance throughout 2002. For the full year, as reported to the Department of Transportation (DOT), 82.9 percent of America West flights arrived on-time, compared with 74.8 percent in 2001. Completed flights increased to 99.0 percent from 98.0 percent in 2001. As a result of these improvements, customer complaints to the DOT dropped by 55 percent in 2002.
“Our employees deserve credit for their continued dedication, perseverance and commitment to customer service,” Parker said. “Through the outstanding efforts of 13,000 America West employees, we improved our performance during 2002 in virtually every operational category. This is particularly significant when considering our airline is one of the few to have maintained its pre-September 11 flight levels throughout 2002.”
Beginning with the restructuring of its fares in March 2002, America West continues to lead the industry with innovations designed to better serve its customers, as well as to improve its financial performance. Among these initiatives is the airline`s current test of “Buy on Board,” in response to customer demand, where restaurant-quality meals are sold on selected flights.
America West will conduct a live audio webcast of its earnings call today at 11:00 a.m. EST, which will be available to the public on a listen-only basis at www.americawest.com . An archive will be available through Feb. 6, 2003.
America West Holdings Corporation is an aviation and travel services company. Wholly owned subsidiary America West Airlines is the nation`s second largest low-fare carrier, serving 88 destinations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The Leisure Company, also a wholly owned subsidiary, is one of the nation`s largest tour packagers.