US Airways Group and JetBlue Airways Corp's posted quarterly results that beat expectations and sent their shares higher, underscoring a recovery in the industry clobbered recently by sagging travel demand.

US Airways saw a narrowed fourth-quarter loss and JetBlue reported a profit that reversed a year-ago loss. Alaska Air Group also swung to a profit but it missed estimates and its shares fell.

The results were consistent with those of rival airlines that recently have seen improvements in their financial positions thanks to industry-wide capacity cuts and a pile of new revenue-generating fees.

Our fourth-quarter and full-year results reflect the extremely difficult environment the industry experienced in 2009, said US Airways Chief Executive Doug Parker in a statement.

The actions we have put in place to address the challenges of the past two years - capacity cuts, a la carte revenues, cost control and a commitment to efficient operating reliability - are working, Parker said.

The airline industry suffered in 2009 under the weight of an economic recession that caused businesses to cut their travel budgets. Airline executives, however, say the cloud have parted and business travelers are returning to the skies.


US Airways said its fourth-quarter net loss amounted to $79 million, or 49 cents per share, compared with a loss of $543 million, or $4.76 a share, a year earlier.

Excluding a total of $47 million in one-time items, US Airways lost $32 million, or 20 cents per share. On that basis, Wall Street had expected the company to lose 50 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares were up 1.23 percent at $4.92 in early trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Total revenue in the fourth quarter was $2.63 billion, down 4.9 percent from a year ago.

US Airways ended the quarter with $2 billion in total cash and investments, of which $500 million was restricted.


JetBlue's profit topped Wall Street estimates as unit cost decreases outpaced revenue declines, the airline said.

Fourth-quarter net income of $11 million, or 4 cents per diluted share, compared with a net loss of $58 million, or 25 cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts expected a profit of 3 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

JetBlue ended the year with $1.1 billion in unrestricted cash and short term investments. The airline generated positive free cash flow for the first time in its history.

JetBlue expects higher costs in the first half of 2010 from the transition to a new customer service system and certain aircraft maintenance to be offset in the second half by higher revenues from product and network initiatives.

JetBlue shares rose 1.98 percent to $5.66 on Nasdaq.

Alaska Air Group, the parent of Alaska Airlines and regional carrier Horizon Air, reported a fourth-quarter net profit helped by lower fuel costs.

Net income came to $24.1 million, or 67 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of $75.2 million, or $2.08 per share. Excluding items the carrier earned 12 cents a share, while analysts expected 32 cents a share.

Alaska Air Group ended the year with $1.2 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities.

Shares of Alaska Air Group slipped 2.88 percent to $35.45 on the NYSE.

(Reporting by Kyle Peterson, Deepa Seetharaman and John Crawley, editing by Dave Zimmeran)