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UPDATE 1-Southwest Air posts higher net, sees strong holiday

Thursday, 24 Oct 2013 | 7:05 AM ET

Oct 24 (Reuters) - U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines Co said on Thursday that quarterly profit rose as fuel costs fell and higher airfares bolstered revenue.

Though the two-week U.S. government shutdown earlier this month hurt demand, holiday bookings look strong, the airline said.

Net income was $259 million, or 37 cents a share, in the third quarter, compared with $16 million, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, the company said profit was 34 cents a share, in line with what analysts had expected on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quarterly revenue rose 5.5 percent to $4.5 billion.

Operating costs fell 2 percent as fuel and oil expenses declined 5 percent. Costs tied to plane repair and maintenance fell nearly 10 percent.

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