Southwest Airlines saw maintenance materials and repairs costs dip $18 million, or 9.7%, in the first quarter, going from $184 million to $166 million, the airline said in its most recent quarterly report
The change on an available seat mile basis was as .03 cents decline (.76 cents to .73 cents), making it the only operating expense subcategory to dip. Southwest's total cost per ASM for the quarter was 11.39 cents.
Explained the carrier:
The decrease on a dollar basis primarily was due to a decline in engine expense as a result of the decrease in engine hours flown versus the prior year. Virtually all of the Company’s engine costs are covered by third-party “power-by-the-hour” maintenance agreements in which expense is based on and recorded commensurate with engine hours flown. The decrease on a per-ASM basis primarily was associated with a decline in the overall blended rate paid per engine hour for the Company’s 737-300 and 737-500 aircraft for first quarter 2010 versus first quarter 2009. The Company expects Maintenance materials and repairs per ASM for second quarter 2010 to be approximately flat with the .74 cents per ASM reported in second quarter 2009, based on currently scheduled airframe maintenance events and projected engine hours flown.