US Airways Swings to Loss on Fuel Costs

US Airways Group flew in the red during the fourth quarter, weighed down by rapidly-rising fuel costs.

The budget carrier reported a loss of $79 million, or 87 cents per share, swinging into the red from a profit of $12 million, or 13 cents per share, for the same period a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected a loss of 76 cents per share.

Chairman and Chief Executive Doug Parker said high fuel costs are likely to keep conditions difficult during the year ahead -- although he sees some encouraging signs.

"We're encouraged by the industry's ability and desire to keep capacity in check, so, as long as everyone keeps capacity in line, we should be able to continue to be OK," Parker told CNBC.

He predicts the airline industry will see more merger-and-acquisition efforts.

"It's a heavily-fragmented industry, and it's over-competitive, and, as a result, we have too many airplanes competing for too few customers," he said.

"Consolidation would help that, in some sense. It would certainly help our ability to provide customer service as a result."

US Airways has overhauled its flight schedules and a troubled reservations system that had made it one of the worst airlines in on-time performance.