Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings fell by nearly half as costs rose for fuel, labor and maintenance.
The airline’s revenue climbed slightly, however, as the average fare increased almost $8 from a year ago.
Southwest said that bookings for the first three months of 2013 look strong. It said that based on bookings and ticket prices so far, a key revenue measure should rise by between 2 and 3 percent in January compared with the same month last year.
Fares are still going up partly because airlines are limiting the number of flights, making seats more scarce. Southwest expects the industry as a whole to run about 1 to 2 percent fewer flights in early 2013 than in the same period last year.