JetBlue and US Airways lead US airline slump

Despite posting significant profits for the final quarter of 2010, shares in JetBlue and US Airways plummeted 8.1% yesterday, as US markets finished the week generally weaker, with falls on the Dow, NASDAQ and S&P indexes. Other carriers that reported share declines included Southwest Airlines (-6.1%), Allegiant Air (-5.3%) and Alaska Airlines (-5%).

JetBlue Airways reported 4Q2010 results improved to USD 31 cents per share, with a net profit of USD9 million for the quarter. However, the carrier's results missed the market estimate. JetBlue's outlook is cautious, with a forecast of higher fuel costs in 2011. Unit costs are projected to increase 11-13% over the year. Excluding fuel, costs are expected to increase 3-5%.

Earlier in the week, US Airways posted a 4Q2010 net income of USD28 million - USD 17 cents a share -  compared with the USD79 million loss it suffered in 4Q2009. The result was ahead of analysts expectations, of USD 6 cents per share. Shares in the carrier jumped to a three-week high after the results annnouncement.

Shares in AirTran Holdings, the parent company of AirTran Airways, dipped 1.2% on Friday. For 4Q2010, the company recorded net income of USD1.9 million, or USD 0.01 cents per share, on revenue of USD645.5 million. The company reported net income of USD38.5.

Selected North American airlines daily share price movements (% change): 28-Jan-2011