Southwest CEO says well positioned for y/y unit revenue growth in 2019
Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board and CEO, stated, "With our new reservation system in place since last year, we have more capabilities and are well-positioned to drive revenue growth. We expect $80 million to $90 million of year-over-year improvement in fourth quarter 2018 pre-tax results from these enhanced capabilities, which is in line with our annual 2018 pre-tax goal of $200 million. On the cost side, our third quarter 2018 unit cost performance was in line with our expectations. Our fuel hedge portfolio mitigated a significant portion of market jet fuel price increases, and we are pleased with the fuel hedge in place for both fourth quarter 2018 and annual 2019. Based on current trends, we continue to expect modest year-over-year inflation in our annual 2018 unit costs, excluding fuel and oil expense and profitsharing expense. Based on our second half 2018 revenue trends, we are well-positioned for year-over-year unit revenue growth in 2019, with easier year-over-year comparisons in first half. We also will continue to experience year-over-year unit cost inflation in 2019, excluding fuel and oil expense and profitsharing expense, of at least three percent, as we continue investing in and deploying new operations, technology, and airport infrastructure to support future growth. With the 2017 retirement of our Boeing 737-300 Classic fleet, launch of the 737 MAX, and implementation of our new reservation system, we continue with our efforts to modernize our fleet, optimize our network, and pursue additional revenue opportunities. Given our healthy revenue outlook, and despite expected cost increases, our 2019 goal is to expand margins year-over-year. We are refocusing our efforts to control costs and drive efficiency, and, as ever, we remain steadfast in our efforts to produce industry-leading margins and superior returns in excess of our cost of capital. For next year, Hawaii is our expansion focus, and we continue to expect 2019 available seat miles to increase no more than five percent, year-over-year."