US Airways expects to see ‘strong performance’ this summer

US Airways President Scott Kirby said that despite its net loss of $114 million in the first-quarter that it will see “strong performance” this summer, and expects to reach double-digit year-over-year growth in May.

“The consumer is coming back, and the leisure demand is starting to come back,” Kirby told reporters and investors Thursday at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Transportation Conference. “March and April were [an] anomaly,” said Kirby, partly attributing a dip in consumer demand to the “headline effect” of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Even though US Airways has no service to the Pacific, the combination of watching … that disaster unfold in Japan, at the same time … all the turmoil in the Middle East … I think caused consumers to pull in their horns,” said Kirby, who noted, “We had lower leisure demand at the end of March and across the Easter holiday.”

Though a driving factor in the deeper first quarter loss was a 33% year-over-year increase in fuel prices, Kirby expressed admiration at the industry’s response. “This is not your father’s airline industry,” he remarked. “This has been an unprecedented industry response to high fuel prices. The fact that [the run-up in fuel all the way to $125 a barrel] wasn’t a crisis … is a remarkable testament to all the restructuring that has happened in the industry.”