Excluding hedging losses and other special items, Southwest Airlines reported earnings of $23 million in the third quarter, a performance that would have "seemed unattainable" even 60 days ago, according to CEO Gary Kelly. Factoring in buyouts and other costs, Southwest lost $16 million in the quarter, still a major improvement over the $120 million lost in the same quarter last year. Lower capacity and higher ancillary fees were among the factors cited for the company's improved performance.

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