Southwest Airlines Co. /zigman2/quotes/201071949/composite LUV +6.56% reported Thursday a narrower-than-expected third-quarter loss as passenger revenue nearly tripled, as overall demand remained "quite strong" despite a deceleration in traffic in August and September as a result of surging COVID-19 cases. The air carrier's stock was little changed in premarket trading. The company swung to net income of $446 million, or 73 cents a share, from a loss of $1.16 billion, or $1.96 a share, in the year-ago period. Excluding non-recurring items, such as $763 million in benefits related to the Payroll Support Program, adjusted per-share losses came to 23 cents, compared with the FactSet loss consensus of 27 cents. Total revenue rose 161.0% to $4.68 billion, above the FactSet consensus of $4.58 billion, as passenger revenue grew 190.7% to $4.23 billion. Load factor improved to 80.7% from 44.9% but came up shy of expectations of 82.1%. For October, revenue and booking trends continue to improve, but the company sees negative impacts of $40 million from the delta variant and of $75 million as a result of flight cancellations from operational challenges. The stock has lost 6.9% over the past three months, while the U.S. Global Jets ETF /zigman2/quotes/207744796/composite JETS +6.14% has slipped 1.8% and the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.42% has gained 4.1%.