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U.S. Airlines Set for a Busy Summer Season

NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 05/11/12 -- Things may be turning around for airline stocks as they have posted respectable profits in what is historically their slowest quarter of the year. Collectively the top seven U.S. airlines have posted a first quarter operating profit of $247 million compared with a moderate loss a year ago according to data collected by the Deutsche Bank. The Paragon Report examines investing opportunities in the Airlines Industry and provides equity research on US Airways Group, Inc. (NYSE: LCC) and JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU).

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Airlines for America's (A4A) annual summer forecast predicts that U.S. airlines will carry 206.2 million passengers in the June-August peak flying season, just 5 percent below the record of 217.6 million. A4A expects a record number of passengers to fly internationally this summer. Total passengers on international flights are forecasted to total 26.8 million, beating last summer's record of 26.3 million according to the group.

"Customers are benefiting from record airline operational performance and greater access to the global economy while fares continue to trail the price of other services," said A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio. "The fact that travelers will take to the air this summer both domestically and in record numbers beyond our borders underscores the value airlines are delivering to customers."

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US Airways Group recently announced April and year-to-date 2012 traffic results. Mainline revenue passenger miles (RPMs) for the month were 5.0 billion, up 2.1 percent versus April 2011. On a GAAP basis, the Company reported a net profit of $48 million for its first quarter 2012, or $0.28 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $114 million, or ($0.71) per share, for the same period in 2011.

JetBlue reported record first quarter operating revenues of $1.2 billion, an increase of 18.9% versus last year. Revenue passenger miles for the first quarter increased 14.2% to 7.91 billion on a capacity increase of 12.0%, resulting in a first quarter load factor of 82.9%, an increase of 1.5 points year over year. "Thanks to the hard work of our 14,000 crewmembers, we are one of only a few major U.S. airlines to report a profitable first quarter in what is a seasonally weak period for the industry," said Dave Barger, JetBlue's President and Chief Executive Officer.

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