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The Associated Press July 21, 2010, 8:10AM ET

AirTran 2Q profit plunges on bad fuel bets, costs

The parent company of AirTran Airways reported Wednesday that its second-quarter earnings plunged 84 percent as higher costs and bad bets on the price of fuel offset rising revenue.

Total operating expenses rose 18 percent in the quarter. The average per-gallon price for fuel jumped 37 percent.

AirTran Holdings Inc. plans to cut costs for at least two years and said it will defer the delivery of nine Boeing 737s that were scheduled to be delivered between 2011 and 2014. They are now set to be delivered between 2015 and 2017.

Company shares rose 5 cents to $4.95 in premarket trading.

AirTran earned $12.4 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with $78.4 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding losses related to bad bets on the price of fuel, the company's net income for the quarter would have been $38.8 million, or 23 cents per share.

Revenue rose 16 percent to $700.6 million, from $603.7 million a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who generally exclude one-time items from their estimates, forecast net income of 25 cents per share on revenue of $706.9 million.

AirTran Airways had $535.3 million in cash at the end of the quarter.

The airline expects to make more money per passenger in the third quarter. Passenger revenue per available seat mile is expected to be up 14.5 percent and 16.5 percent.

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