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Southwest CEO: Q3 earnings beat due to fuel price drop

After years of shouldering crushing crude prices, the airline industry is finally getting a break, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said Thursday, after his company reported third-quarter profit that topped analysts' expectations.

Its stock rose more than 2 percent in premarket trading. (Click here for the latest price.)

"Obviously the big headline is a significant drop in fuel prices. That's what caused the surge in earnings year over year," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Kelly pointed to energy prices as one of the prime culprits responsible for plunging the nation's air carriers into bankruptcy during the last 15 years. But while airlines are...