Southwest Airlines reports record operating revenue

A Southwest Airlines jet takes off from McCarran International Airport on Friday, Aug. 26, 2011.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the busiest commercial air carrier at McCarran International Airport, reported its second-quarter earnings Thursday.

Company: Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV)

Revenue: $4.64 billion (up 0.6 percent from second quarter of 2012). Record-high operating revenue resulted from Southwest’s expanded network by absorbing AirTran, which it acquired in 2011. Record loads and larger aircraft also improved revenue.

Earnings: $224 million (down 1.8 percent from second quarter of 2012). Southwest had special expenses in the integration of AirTran, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014. Added expenses include removing and replacing the AirTran fleet of Boeing 717 jets. The airline also is developing an international hub at Houston’s Hobby Airport. Lower fuel prices during the quarter enabled Southwest to beat analysts’ earnings expectations.

Earnings per share: 31 cents (up 0.3 percent from second quarter of 2012)

Quote: “While the lingering effects of government sequestration and higher taxes continued to be a drag on air travel demand, second quarter 2013 revenues and passenger traffic still reached record levels. In addition, we are in the midst of integrating AirTran, launching new city pairs and optimizing the combined networks. We maintained strong load factors and ended the quarter with a record June load factor of 85 percent, which is notable considering the increasing mix of larger gauge 737-800s and Evolve-700s.” — Southwest Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly

What it means: While Southwest’s integration of AirTran has had little direct impact on Las Vegas, it’s the airline’s primary goal. Southwest averages 220 flights a day and has about a 45 percent market share at McCarran. Las Vegas is Southwest’s second busiest station behind Chicago’s Midway Airport.

Las Vegas is one of the airports that has heaviest use of Southwest’s new 175-seat Boeing 737-800 jets because many of the flights to its 53 nonstop destinations from McCarran are lengthy.