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USAir Loses $32 Million in First Quarter

April 24, 1996

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ USAir Group Inc. said Wednesday its losses narrowed in the first quarter despite a harsh winter weather in January and February, primarily because fares were higher and planes flew less empty.

The Arlington-based carrier lost $32 million, or 86 cents per share, in the January-March period, up from a loss of $97 million, or $1.91 cents per share in the year ago period.

However it posted an operating profit for the quarter of $10.8 million, compared with a $42 million loss a year ago.

Revenues rose 6 percent to $1.87 billion from $1.76 billion a year ago, the financially troubled carrier said. The average fare was up 9 percent and the carrier’s planes were 65 percent full, up from 60 percent.

``The winter storms, plus the impact of the government shutdown cost us probably about $55 million dollars either in lost revenues or cost,″ said Rick Weintraub, a USAir spokesman.

Stephen M. Wolf, USAir chairman and chief executive officer, said he was disappointed with a loss when the industry as a whole did better. But Weintraub noted USAir’s operating costs are high because it flies short routes.

``Even though USAir’s costs remain the highest in the industry, these results underscore the revenue potential and inherent strength of our East Coast core business,″

The first-quarter results were better than expected, said David Campbell, an analyst with Scott & Stringfellow in Richmond. He said he had expected a loss of about $1.50 per share.

``The first quarter is a hard time for them to make money,″ he said. ``January and February are really bad months in their system.″

Operating profit for the quarter was $10.8 million, compared with a $42 million loss a year ago.

Union representatives said Wolf has told employees during the last few weeks that the airline likely cannot survive as an independent company and should merge or ally with another carrier. Wolf won’t comment on the meetings.

On the New York Stock Exchange, the company’s shares fell 62 1/2 cents to $16.50 per share.

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