Southwest Down on Higher Fuel Costs

Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) Chief Financial Officer Laura Wright is bemoaning high fuel costs as the reason the company may not report a profit in this current and first quarter of 2012.

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Expecting fuel costs to weigh in at about $3.50 a gallon, up 15 cents over the previous forecast, she said the recent fare increases have become “less effective.” The company has apparently passed on rising fuel costs through almost 10 fare increases in the past year.

An important metric for the company — the passenger revenue per available seat mile — climbed 4 percent in February, but was lower compared to the 7 percent seen in January. “For March, bookings remain good but we are cautious,” Wright said.

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