Southwest “on the prowl looking for opportunities to grow”; Ryanair to launch boarding card adverts

Southwest Airlines’ shares gained 0.8% yesterday, while the other US LCCs were all weaker (Air Tran and JetBlue both fell 2.3% and Allegiant 0.5% weaker).

CEO, Gary Kelly, speaking to the Wings Club in New York City, stated he would “never say never” to the idea of further mergers, with the CEO stating that while consolidation remains a challenging option, the carrier will "remain on the prowl looking for opportunities to grow in any form that it takes."

Mr Kelly added that he still considers the carrier to be a growth airline, but stated that, until the economy improves, the carrier will be careful in its capacity management. Mr Kelly predicted the economy will grow approximately 3% in 2010 and that Business traffic demand will grow at a similarly modest pace, meaning the carrier’s capacity will be “roughly flat”.

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 17-Dec-09

Ryanair hooked on advertising

Meanwhile, Europe’s largest LCC, Ryanair (shares down 0.3% yesterday), announced plans to display third party advertising on its boarding cards from early 2010 following the successful introduction of its 100% online check-in service. Ryanair’s new advertising service allows both global and local brands to reach a pan-European audience by integrating online and print advertising to deliver focused advertising campaigns.

Jazeera’s shares gained 3.1%, while Virgin Blue and AirAsia gained 1.8% and 0.8%, respectively. See related article: Jetstar-AirAsia discuss cost-sharing JV, Thai Airways cooperating with Nok Air