Alaska Air posts bigger-than-expected loss as costs mount

An Alaska Airlines aircraft lands at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, VirginiaAn Alaska Airlines aircraft flies past the U.S. Capitol before landing at Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 24, 2022. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

April 20 (Reuters) – Alaska Air Group (ALK.N) on Thursday reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss as higher expenses related to labor and fuel dented the carrier's margins.

As more people plan their travel after the pandemic kept them at home for a long period, airlines are struggling to capitalize on rising demand with limited capacity coupled with elevated cost pressures.

Earlier this month, American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) forecast first-quarter profit below market expectations, joining rival United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) in signaling a hit from increasing costs.

In January, Alaska Air warned that it would face pressures from higher labor costs and expenses related to pilot training as it phases out Airbus SE (AIR.PA) jets in favor of Boeing Co (BA.N) planes.

Shares of Alaska Air fell 1.49% in premarket trading on Thursday after the company forecast second-quarter cost per available seat mile (CASM), excluding fuel, to rise between 1% and 3%.

On an adjusted basis, the company posted a loss of 62 cents per share in the first quarter ended March 31, compared with analysts' average estimate of 48 cents per share, according to Refinitiv data.

Operating revenue for the quarter rose 31% to $2.19 billion.

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