Southwest Loses $120M on Bad Oil Bet

Otherwise, quarter beat expectations
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2008 7:36 AM CDT
A Southwest Airlines jet lands at Midway Airport in Chicago, Tuesday, Oct., 16, 2007.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – Southwest Airlines posted a $120-million third-quarter loss today, due almost entirely to a one-time $247-million charge on an oil bet gone wrong, the New York Times reports. Southwest aggressively locks in its fuel costs far in advance, which looked brilliant last year, as oil prices skyrocketed. But oil’s steep decline this quarter has turned the contracts toxic.

Excluding the charge, Southwest beat analyst estimates, earning $69 million on revenues of $2.9 billion, an 11.7% jump. CEO Gary Kelly called the oil charge a “fluke,” and said he’s happy with his results, despite the first quarterly loss in more than 17 years. “The world is on fire, and we’re in pretty good shape,” he said. “We’re going to fight hard to blast through the headlines.”