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US airline shares affected by European debt-concerns; WestJet reports larger-than-expected profit

Shares in US airlines reported their largest one-day reduction in three months yesterday as the broader S&P 500 index slumped 2.4%. According to Morningstar, the reduction represents "a continuation of the flight to safety, as people are scared a credit contagion could spread from Greece to other debt-laden countries".

Approximately 12.1 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq yesterday, more than the estimated daily average in 2009 of 9.65 billion.

WestJet reports 20th consecutive quarter of profitability; but larger-than-expected reduction in earnings

Shares in WestJet slipped 1.8% yesterday, as the carrier reported a larger-than-expected 63% reduction in quarterly net profits to CAD13.8 million (USD13.5 million). It did however mark the carrier’s 20th consecutive quarter of profitability. The reduction in earnings occurred despite a 7.0% increase in revenues (to USD605 million), a 6.9% increase in passenger numbers (to 3.7 million) and a 1.3 ppt load factor improvement (to 81.7%).

The carrier witnessed a 2.4% reduction in yield and a 0.8% RASM reduction in the quarter, while unit costs increased. Unit costs including and excluding fuel rose 3.9% and 4.9% respectively. The carrier added there are indications that stronger load factors and improving yield trends are “starting to emerge”, with the carrier expecting to witness RASM gains in 2Q2010. 

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 04-May-2010