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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 5, 2010

Hawaiian Air reports 'remarkable' year of soaring income in 2009

By Rick Daysog
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Mark Dunkerley

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Hawaiian Airlines' parent said its net income soared more than fourfold to a record in 2009 as the local carrier flew the most passengers in its 80-year history.

Hawaiian Holdings Inc. netted $116.7 million, or $2.22 a diluted share in 2009, up from $28.6 million or 57 cents a share the year before.

The results exceeded Wall Street's expectations. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News had forecast earnings of $1.35 per share for 2009.

Shares of Hawaiian slipped 19 cents to close at $6.08 per share on the Nasdaq market yesterday. The results were released after the market's close.

"2009 was a remarkable year for our company," Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian's CEO and president said in a news release.

"With lower fuel prices and the hard work of everyone at Hawaiian Airlines, we overcame the effects of an economic recession and the attentions of a new entrant on our interisland routes to post our company's best-ever results."

The state's largest carrier said it flew a record 8.3 million passengers last year as the carrier continued to hold its position as the U.S. airline industry's top on-time carrier.

During the year, Hawaiian's fuel expenses plunged by 42.6 percent to $243.9 million as the airline's average cost for a gallon of jet fuel fell to about $1.84 from $3.17.

"Fuel prices were the big story of 2009," Dunkerley said by phone. "2008 saw record fuel prices in the summer and in 2009 prices tumbled in face of economic recession."

For the quarter, the company netted $35 million, or 66 cents per share, helped by a one-time $25 million tax benefit.

That compared with a loss of $11.9 million, or 23 cents a diluted share during the same quarter a year earlier.

The fourth quarter net came on revenues of $297 mil-lion, a 1.2 percent increase from the year-earlier quarter.

The airline also resolved most of its major labor issues during the latest quarter.

In November, the carrier reached an agreement with its machinists union on a new four-year contract and in the following month, Hawaiian and the Air Line Pilots Association reached a tentative agreement on a 68-month agreement.

The pilots deal was approved by pilots in January.