US Airways First-Quarter Profit Soars on Fuller Planes

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Full planes were good to US Airways in the first quarter.

The nation's fifth-largest airline posted a bigger adjusted profit as it carried more passengers, and collected more from them.

The airline earned $44 million, or 26 cents a share. Its adjusted profit was 31 cents a share, topping the expectations of analysts polled by FactSet.

Revenue rose 3.5 percent to $3.38 billion, driven by what the airline called "a strong demand environment."

The airline earned 28 cents a share in the year-ago quarter, but that was inflated by a swap with Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) that gave US Airways more landing rights in Washington in exchange for giving up rights at New York's LaGuardia airport.

Traffic rose 4.4 percent, pushing occupancy up by 2.4 percentage points, to 81.7 percent.

Fuel prices fell by 3 cents per gallon, to $3.24.

US Airways plans to merge with American Airlines. The combined airline would be the biggest in the world. US Airways said it still expects the deal to close by the end of September.

Shares of Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group Inc. (LCC) rose 32 cents, or 2 percent, to $15.84 in morning trading.

(Updated at 9:56 a.m. ET)

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