AirTran committed to Charleston, despite $35M loss in first quarter

Image by flickr user Cubbie_n_VegasImage by airtran.jpg AirTran CEO Robert Fornaro says the airline is dedicated to Charleston and had a strong first year here, but a $102 million increase in fuel costs during the first quarter of 2008 has hit the company hard.

High fuel prices have caused a lot of trouble this year for AirTran, which saw a $35 million loss in the first quarter of 2008, but CEO Robert Fornaro says that the company is still committed to Charleston and that the airline did better here in its first year than he expected. The Post and Courier reports:

In the year that AirTran has been flying to Charleston International Airport, the trips have performed better than expected, according to the AirTran chief, who was in town for the carrier's annual shareholders meeting.

"It's the right fit, and it's a strong city," Fornaro said. "It's probably a little bit better than we thought. We have a pretty high standard when we enter a new city and it's met our standard. ...It's a city that we want to stay in."

In a press release earlier this month, AirTran reported record revenues, traffic, and customers, as well as being ranked No. 1 in the annual Airline Quality Rating report, but that good news was overshadowed by a $102 million increase in fuel costs:

"Despite record revenues, record high fuel costs remain a tremendous challenge for all airlines," said Bob Fornaro, AirTran Airways' president and chief executive officer.

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