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Southwest Airlines Aims To Lower Costs

Southwest Airlines Co., which already spends less money to fly its planes than any U.S. carrier, said Friday it will try to further reduce costs this year to stand up to heightened competition.

The carrier’s costs in the fourth quarter of last year were 6.94 cents per available seat mile - the lowest in the industry. The average domestic cost is about 9.1 cents, according to industry analysts.

But Gary Kelly, the company’s chief financial officer, said Southwest intends to further reduce costs and already has such steps under way.

Recently, Dallas-based Southwest signed up to use AMR Corp.’s new reservation booking service, which will allow Southwest to reduce the number of reservation agents it employs internally, Kelly said.