Allegiant posts big earnings thanks to lower fuel costs

Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Company almost quadrupled earnings in the fourth quarter of 2008 and increased revenue 21 percent, due in large part to savings from lower fuel prices.

The company, which specializes in flying customers from small towns to vacation hot-spots like Las Vegas, Arizona and Florida, reaped big gains from efficiency measures taken earlier in the year to cope with oil prices of $150 per barrel.

When the brunt of the recession dragged down the economy, and oil prices, in the fall, Allegiant was in position to benefit.

Allegiant, "tuned the airline to handle high fuel prices in the fourth quarter, as evidenced by the year-over-year reduction in capacity, and
substantial increases in passengers per departure, load factor and total average air fare," said President and Chief Executive Maurice J. Gallagher.

Allegiant also announced it would buy back up to $25 million in common stock.

Earnings in the fourth quarter were $18.2 million or 88 cents per share, up from $4.8 million or 23 cents pr share, in the fourth quarter of 2007.

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