US Airways stock shot up nearly 59 percent, and United Airlines surged almost 69 percent yesterday, on smaller-than-expected quarterly losses and plans to further cut flights, trim jobs and raise capital to counter high fuel prices.
Airline stocks also rallied on tumbling crude-oil prices.
US Airways reported a loss for the quarter of $567 million, or $6.16 per share, swinging from a $263 million profit a year earlier. Without special items that included a $640 million write-down, the net loss was $101 million, or $1.11 a share - better than analysts' consensus estimate of a $1.30 loss.
Revenue for the quarter that ended June 30 rose about 3 percent to $3.26 billion.
"I'm really encouraged by what the industry is doing," US Airways chairman and chief executive officer Doug Parker said on a conference call. "It's not outrageous to suggest that what's already been done may be enough to get the industry profitable in 2009," he said.
"If that's not true, you'll see us do more."
The region's largest airline, which carries two-thirds of Philadelphia passengers, said it would cut capacity - flights and seats - an additional 1 percent to 2 percent in the fourth quarter.
US Airways said it would trim 2,000 jobs - 300 more than the 1,700 previously announced.
The carrier, based in Tempe, Ariz., revised upward revenue projections for its "a la carte" pricing - fees for everything from checked bags to sodas and choice aisle and window seats. US Airways expects to generate $400 million to $500 million a year from added fees - $100 million more than original projections.
US Airways had $2.8 billion in total cash as of June 30 and said it was actively pursuing financing to bolster its liquidity.
United, the nation's second-largest airline, yesterday reported a $2.7 billion second-quarter loss and said it would cut 7,000 jobs next year, up from 3,800 previously.
United also announced a $1.7 billion cash infusion through a deal with its credit-card-issuer JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chase will accelerate a payment of $600 million for advance purchase of United frequent-flier miles and will extend a contract it issues with United's brand for credit-card customers.
Most of United's loss was due to noncash charges of $2.6 billion. Without those items, United lost $151 million, or $1.19 a share. Analysts expected a loss of $2.05 a share. Analysts' estimates generally exclude one-time special charges.
Asked why airline stocks soared, Parker said falling crude-oil prices certainly had an impact. He said the industry's aggressive schedule cuts and new passenger fees demonstrated that the industry was dealing with the high jet-fuel prices.
On another note, Parker said US Airways was No. 1 in on-time performance so far in 2008 among 10 major airlines, "an amazing turnaround from being 10th out of 10 last year at this time."
US Airways president Scott Kirby credited the airline's 35,000 employees, including those in Philadelphia who worked with the Philadelphia Department of Aviation to achieve a "huge operational turnaround in Philadelphia" in improving baggage-handling and delays, even in this busy summer travel season.
Looking ahead, bookings are "strong" for the rest of the year, although there's been "some weakening" in business travel, said chief financial officer Derek Kerr.
"Leisure bookings are still being made at levels higher than last year," he said. "Importantly, our average yield is up over 12 percent for the September-to-December bookings compared to the same point in time last year."
US Airways had a $400 million profit in 2007 and is projected by Wall Street to have a $1 billion loss in 2008.
In other airline earnings, low-fare carrier JetBlue Airways said it lost $7 million, or 3 cents a share in the second quarter. Analysts expected a 7-cent-per-share loss. JetBlue does not operate flights in Philadelphia.
US Airways shares closed up $1.58 to $4.27, or 58.7 percent. United shares closed up $3.42 to $8.41, or 68.5 percent. JetBlue shares closed up 61 cents, or 15.6 percent, to $4.50.