Alaska Air Group posts strong fourth-quarter earnings

Alaska Airlines jet on the tarmac at sunset

Alaska Air Group’s fourth-quarter 2019 net earnings jumped to $181 million, or $1.46 per share, on lower fuel and aircraft maintenance costs, reduced expenses related to its acquisition of Virgin America, and an 8% increase in revenue, the company said Wednesday.

For the full year, Alaska’s net earnings were $769 million, or $6.19 per share on a fully diluted basis, on operating revenues of $8.78 billion. The company’s 2019 operating revenue increased 6% from 2018, while its operating expenses rose just 1%.

Alaska bundles its cargo revenue with revenue from airport lounge memberships and hotel and car rental commissions. Cargo and other revenue in the fourth quarter was virtually unchanged from the same period the previous year at $52 million.

In mid-December, Alaska briefly stopped flying its three Boeing 737-700 freighters after Israel Aerospace Industries, the company that converted the aircraft to freighters from passenger planes, notified the company about a potential issue with the planes’ 9g rigid barrier wall. The barrier prevents cargo from shifting forward in the event of extreme deceleration. The company developed a modified aircraft loading plan and began flying the planes again at reduced capacity after a few days.

For the full year, cargo and other revenue rose 11% to $211 million.

Alaska Air Group fourth quarter financial results.