“Extremely Murky.”

Those are the words used by US Airways President Scott Kirby to describe the carrier’s 2009 outlook.

“I don’t know how anyone could give a credible forecast for the full year,” Kirby was quoted as saying in today’s Charlotte Observer.

US Airways on Thursday reported a $541 million fourth-quarter loss and a $2.2 billion loss for the year. The company had recorded a $427 million profit in ‘07.

Falling fuel prices have done little to help the carrier. That’s because most big airlines locked in fuel prices at higher levels last year to hedge against future increases, the Observer said.

Oil prices have fallen from nearly $150 a barrel in July to less than $45 a barrel in December. Other major airlines also are reporting big losses.

US Airways is one of Charlotte’s biggest employers and is a key driver for the local economy. It accounts for about 85 percent of all traffic moving through Charlotte/Douglas International Airport.

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