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AirTran narrows 4Q loss as sales soar

The Baltimore Sun

AirTran Holdings Inc. reported yesterday that it narrowed its fourth-quarter loss by offsetting rising fuel costs with higher fares and fuller airplanes.

The No. 2 airline at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport reported a net loss of $2.2 million, or 2 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Dec. 31. That compares with a loss of $3.6 million, or 4 cents per share, for the fourth quarter of 2006.

Revenue soared 27 percent to $583.8 million.

For the year, AirTran reported net income of $52.7 million, or 56 cents per share. That's more than a 250 percent increase over the $14.7 million in profits in 2006. Revenue last year increased 22 percent to $2.31 billion.

About a quarter of AirTran's new flights in 2008 will be out of BWI, said Kevin Healy, senior vice president of marketing and planning.

"What it really translates to is a couple more flights and a couple more destinations," Healy said.

AirTran is scheduled to have about 50 daily departures out of BWI in 2008, four more than it has now.

Baltimore could move past Orlando, Fla., this year to become AirTran's second-largest market by passengers flown, after Atlanta, Healy said. But AirTran has committed to keeping its corporate headquarters in Orlando.

The airline plans to scale back its overall capacity growth to 10 percent, from more than 20 percent in recent years.

AirTran shares rose 38 cents to close at $8.84.

Sun reporter Andrea K. Walker contributed to this article.

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