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US Airways books profit on gain

(AP) US Airways (LCC) reported better-than-expected results for the first quarter on Wednesday as it raised fares to offset the rising price of fuel.

The nation's fifth-largest airline earned $48 million, or 28 cents per share, for the quarter because of one-time gains. Not counting special items it lost money, although less than analysts expected.

Like other airlines, US Airways has been raising fares to offset higher fuel prices. Per-seat passenger revenue rose 8.2 percent. Even with higher fares, passenger traffic rose 4.7 percent.

"As we prepare for the busy summer travel period, we continue to be encouraged with the overall strength in passenger demand," Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said in a prepared statement.

The first three months of the year are seasonally weak for travel. US Airways would have lost $22 million, or 13 cents per share, if not for a one-time $73 million gain related to its trade with Delta for landing rights in Washington and New York. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a loss of 25 cents per share.

A year ago, the airline lost $114 million, or 71 cents per share.

Revenue rose 10.3 percent to $3.27 billion, more than analysts had expected.

Fuel expenses jumped 17 percent to $859 million.

US Airways, based in Tempe, Ariz., said last week that it has the support of unions at American Airlines for a merger of the two airlines. American is reorganizing under bankruptcy protection.

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In its quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, US Airways said it is continuing to study American's parent AMR Corp., and has concluded that merging with AMR while it's in bankruptcy "represents a unique opportunity for our company."

US Airways Group Inc. shares rose 36 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $9.67 in premarket trading.