Southwest 4Q profit falls federal shutdown hurts revenue

DALLAS — Southwest Airlines says it has lost $10 million to $15 million so far from the partial government shutdown but overall travel demand remains strong, boosting the carrier’s outlook for first-quarter revenue.The airline disclosed the shutdown impact Thursday as it reported a smaller fourth-quarter profit than a year earlier, but still better than analysts had expected. Southwest shares rose in midday trading.The government shutdown is grounding some government and contractor travellers. It is also delaying approval of Southwest’s plan to begin flying from California to Hawaii, because Federal Aviation Administration regulators who must approve the service remain off the job.“We are anxious for the government to resolve this shutdown,” Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement.Delta Air Lines said last week that the government shutdown that started Dec. 22 will cost it $25 million this month.At Southwest, Kelly said, demand for tickets remains strong, including among corporate travellers. Southwest predicted that revenue for each seat flown one mile — investors watch that number closely as an indicator of demand and pricing power — will rise by between 4 per cent and 5 per cent in the first quarter if there is no further damage from the government shutdown.That forecast is stronger than revenue guidance given last week by Delta and United Airlines.Southwest said it earned $654 million in the fourth quarter, down 63 per cent from $1.75 billion a year earlier.The profit of $1.17 per share beat the average forecast of $1.06 from 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research.Revenue rose 8.5 per cent to $5.7 billion, narrowly beating the analysts’ forecasts. Spending on jet fuel and labour costs both rose.In midday trading, shares of Southwest Airlines Co. rose $2.45, or 4.8 per cent, to $53.47.The shares have climbed almost 10 per cent since the beginning of the year, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has risen slightly more than 5 per cent. The stock has decreased 22 per cent in the last 12 months._____Elements of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap ) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on LUV at https://www.zacks.com/ap/LUVDavid Koenig, The Associated Press read more

Jaffna students boycott classes TNA to protest

Meanwhile the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) announced that a demonstration will be held on Monday in Jaffna to protest against the incidents. The TNA said that the demonstration will be to protest against the attack on the students who attempted to commemorate the LTTE ‘heroes day” anniversary as well as against the attack on Jaffna TNA MP  E. Sarawanabavan. Jaffna university students have decided to boycott classes both today and tomorrow over the clashes with the police and army over the LTTE “heroes day” ceremonies.The Jaffna university students union said that they had called for the boycott to ensure the safety of the students after some of them were injured in the clashes over the past two days. read more