Spirit Airlines sees nearly 98 percent increase in earnings

A Spirit Airlines jet takes off from McCarran International Airport on Friday, Aug. 26, 2011.

Mirimar, Fla.-based Spirit Airlines, the fastest growing domestic air carrier at McCarran International Airport last year, reported its third-quarter earnings Wednesday.

Company: Spirit Airlines Inc. (Nasdaq: SAVE)

Revenue: $456.6 million (up 33.4 percent from the third quarter of 2012). Higher revenue was attributed to a higher percentage of seats filled than the third quarter of 2012 โ€” 89.1 percent compared with 85.9 percent โ€” and higher yields per passenger. Spirit also is adding two new airports and will add seven new routes next month; tickets are already being sold for them. Compared with the third quarter of 2012, Spirit's average fare has increased 11.3 percent to $135, with base ticket costs up 15.3 percent to $83 and ancillary fees up 5.4 percent to $52 per flight. Executives said they were able to increase fares because competitors increased theirs during the busy summer travel season.

Earnings: $61.1 million (up 97.8 percent from the third quarter of 2012). The company is continuing to benefit from the renegotiation of 14 aircraft leases in the second quarter. Spirit also saved by in-sourcing some contract work and decreasing software consulting costs. The company's earnings also compared favorably with last year when revenue fell as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

Earnings per share: 84 cents (up 95.3 percent from third quarter of 2012).

What it means: For Las Vegas, there were few changes for the company, as most of Spirit's growth for the quarter was focused on Minneapolis and the airline's plan to convert flights into the Phoenix area from Mesa Gateway Airport to Sky Harbor International Airport.

The airline will take delivery of seven new aircraft next year, resulting in anticipated capacity growth of 15 percent in 2014. The company gave no indication where that growth would occur.

Spirit offers an average 26 daily flights to and from McCarran to 13 destinations and, by seat capacity, is Las Vegas' fourth largest carrier.

Quote: "It is becoming clear that Spirit's customers understand that our ultra-low fares plus optional services offer them a total price that's tough to beat. Spirit is known for doing things differently than other air carriers, and we celebrate those differences because they allow us to offer our customers the freedom to pay for only what they value while earning a return for our shareholders." โ€” Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza

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