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UPDATE 1-Southwest Airlines Q4 profit tops estimates as costs fall

Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 | 8:36 AM ET

Jan 23 (Reuters) - U.S. carrier Southwest Airlines Co posted a better-than-expected profit in the fourth quarter, aided by higher fares and lower costs for fuel and aircraft maintenance.

The carrier cited strong demand for the current quarter.

Shares jumped 2.3 percent to $22.28 in premarketing trading

Net income rose to $212 million, or 30 cents a share, from $78 million, or 11 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding special items, the profit was 33 cents a share. That compared with 29 cents expected by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Quarterly revenue increased 6 percent to $4.43 billion, driven by strength in holiday travel. The average airfare rose 5 percent to $156.05.

Operating expenses fell 1 percent, with fuel and oil costs down 9 percent. Expenses for maintenance materials and repairs dropped about 12 percent.

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