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SkyWest (SKYW) September Block Hours Fall, Load Factor Rises


SkyWest, Inc. SKYW reported a 4.4% (6,300) year-over-year decline in block hours (a measure of aircraft utilization) to 138,900 in September.

The regional carrier, which remains focused on streamlining its operations, stated that the fall in the metric was in sync with its fleet transition plans. The company aims to reduce the 50-seat jets in its fleet and add new E175 aircraft.

Notably, SkyWest’s dual class aircraft (E175, CRJ 900 and CRJ700) accounted for approximately 53.9% of the carrier’s total block-hour production for the month compared with approximately 53.1% a year ago. In terms of airlines, SkyWest Airlines and Express Jet Airlines represented a respective 79% and 21% of the carrier’s total block-hour production for September.

Load factor (percentage of seats filled with passengers) improved 10 basis points (bps) to 79.6% in September. While the number of departures in the month fell 6.6% on a year-over-year basis, passenger count declined 5.8%. Additionally, this St. George, UT-based company reported a 4.8% decrease in block hours for the first nine months of the year.

With SkyWest constantly looking to modernize its fleet, we expect these efforts to boost its third-quarter 2018 results, which are scheduled to be disclosed on Oct 30.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

SkyWest carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the airline space are Spirit Airlines, Inc. SAVE, Southwest Airlines Co. LUV and United Continental Holdings, Inc. UAL. While Spirit Airlines sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Southwest Airlines and United Continental carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Shares of Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Continental have rallied more than 25%, 5% and 29%, respectively, in a year.

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