Courtesy, Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines (SWA) reported 2011 net income of $178 million, down 61.2% from a net profit of $459 million in 2010. The Dallas-based low-cost carrier attributed the profit decline to "significantly higher fuel prices," but it noted that its revenue performance was strong and 2011 marked its 39th consecutive year of profitability. 

"We had an outstanding revenue performance," chairman, president and CEO Gary Kelly said in a statement. "Our fourth quarter operating revenues were a record $4.1 billion. Fourth quarter passenger revenues were strong, driven by record yields and continued high load factors … Based on current traffic and booking trends, we expect another strong passenger revenue performance in first quarter of 2012."   

SWA posted a 12.7% year-over-year revenue increase in 2011 (on a combined pro forma basis that includes AirTran Airways' 2010 results) to $16.6 billion. Expenses heightened 17.3% to $15.93 billion driven by a 35% leap in fuel costs to $6.01 billion. Pro forma 2011 operating income was $662 million, down 41.9%.

SWA acquired AirTran last year (ATW Daily News, April 27, 2011).