AirTran Holdings, Inc., Reports Fourth Quarter and Year End Results

- Fourth Quarter Recovery with Operating Income of $54.9 Million -

- Record Revenues of $589.4 Million -

- 2008 Net Loss of $273.8 Million -

ORLANDO, Fla. , Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AirTran Holdings, Inc., (NYSE: AAI), the parent company of AirTran Airways, Inc., today reported a net loss of $273.8 million for the full year 2008, or $2.51 per diluted share, which included non-operating losses of $150.8 million related to changes in fair value on the Company's out-of-the-money fuel hedge contracts. During the fourth quarter, AirTran unwound approximately 78 percent of its 2009 fuel hedge contracts in order to mitigate the potential for additional losses on further oil price declines. For the fourth quarter, AirTran reported a net loss of $118.4 million, or $1.00 per diluted share, which also included non-operating losses of $147.7 million related to fuel hedge contracts. AirTran ended the fourth quarter with $340.5 million in unrestricted cash and investments, its highest year-end balance since 2005.

The fourth quarter results demonstrated the benefits of AirTran Airways' plan for adapting to the year's high-cost energy environment, the unrest in the capital markets, and an uncertain economy. In the second quarter 2008, the Company initiated steps to position the airline to react to these challenges by enhancing the airline's liquidity and reducing capacity and capital expenditures aggressively through the disposition of aircraft and the deferral of Boeing 737 deliveries while sustaining a low-cost structure. These actions combined with the recent decline in fuel prices resulted in a record fourth quarter operating income of $54.9 million on record fourth quarter revenues of $589.4 million.

"2008 was an especially tough and challenging year," said Bob Fornaro , AirTran Airways' chairman, president and chief executive officer. "We thank our dedicated, hard-working Crew Members and our loyal customers for helping us overcome the many obstacles we faced in 2008. Our Crew Members continue to strive to provide exceptional customer service, and a high-quality product while offering value to the traveling public. Despite the industry challenge shifting from high oil costs to concerns regarding consumer demand, our 2008 initiatives have us well positioned to return to profitability in 2009."

Revenues for the fourth quarter grew 1.0 percent to $589.4 million. Despite a 6.5 percent decrease in capacity, fourth quarter traffic fell just 2.2 percent, resulting in a record fourth quarter load factor of 78.7 percent, a 3.4 point increase over 2007. Passenger unit revenues in the fourth quarter were up 6.8 percent to 10.32 cents per available seat mile (ASM). Total unit revenues were up 7.9 percent to 11.00 cents per ASM, the highest fourth quarter level achieved in the Company's history.

For the full year, capacity increased by 4.9 percent and traffic rose 9.6 percent, which resulted in a load factor of 79.6 percent. Total annual revenues grew by 10.5 percent to $2.6 billion. Passenger unit revenues increased 4.6 percent to 10.14 cents per available seat mile (ASM). Total unit revenues were up 5.3 percent to 10.72 cents per ASM, the highest annual level AirTran has ever achieved.

Commenting on the fourth quarter performance, AirTran Airways' senior vice president and chief financial officer Arne Haak said, "2008 presented multiple financial challenges. With a resiliency and a 'can-do-attitude' that defines AirTran, we reacted promptly and decisively to address these challenges. We are committed to being disciplined managers, maintaining our low cost advantage, and we believe that AirTran is now better positioned for the uncertainty that lies ahead in 2009."

Highlights of AirTran Airways' 2008 accomplishments include:

AirTran Holdings, Inc., will conduct a conference call to discuss the quarter's results today at 9:30 a.m. EST . A live broadcast of the conference call will be available via the Internet in the investor relations section at

AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), a Fortune 1000 company, is ranked number one in the 2008 Airline Quality Rating study. The airline offers coast-to-coast flights, North America's newest all-Boeing fleet, friendly service and Business Class and complimentary XM Satellite Radio on every flight. To book a flight, visit

Editor's note: Statements regarding the Company's operational and financial success, business model, expectation about future success, improved operational performance and our ability to maintain or improve our low costs are forward-looking statements and are not historical facts. Instead, they are estimates or projections involving numerous risks or uncertainties, including but not limited to, consumer demand and acceptance of services offered by the Company, the Company's ability to maintain current cost levels, fare levels and actions by competitors, regulatory matters and general economic conditions. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements is contained from time to time in the Company's SEC filings, including but not limited to the Company's annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007 . The Company disclaims any obligation or duty to update or correct any of its forward-looking statements.

* Attached: Consolidated Statements of Operations

We prepare our financial statements in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Within our press release, we make reference to certain non-GAAP financial measures including EBITDA, EBITDA adjusted, operating margin adjusted, and net margin adjusted. Earnings before income taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization ("EBITDA") is a supplemental non-GAAP financial measure used by management, as well as industry analysts, to evaluate operations and operating performance. We are also presenting EBITDA because it is used by some industry analysts and investors as a way to assess a company's ability to incur and service debt, make capital expenditures and meet working capital requirements. Our disclosures may also exclude special or non-recurring items that we believe should be taken into consideration to more accurately measure and monitor our operating performance. Our disclosure of non-fuel operating cost per available seat mile (non-fuel CASM) is consistent with financial measures reported by other airlines and analysts. We believe that non-fuel CASM and non-fuel CASM adjusted provide a better understanding of our operations. Both the cost and availability of fuel are subject to many economic and political factors and are therefore beyond our control. Our press release also contains information regarding the components of GAAP fuel expense and net gains and loss on derivative financial instruments. These amounts have been included as supplemental information.

We disclose both the average fuel cost per gallon and the average economic fuel cost per gallon. Average fuel cost per gallon is based on fuel expense as measured by GAAP and includes realized gains and losses on fuel related derivative instruments which are accounted for as hedges. Average economic fuel cost per gallon includes realized gains and losses on all fuel related derivative instruments, including those which were not accounted for as hedges.

We consider our fuel derivative contracts an important tool in managing costs related to jet fuel purchases. We believe it is important to assess our financial performances by including the effect of the quarterly net cash settlements and excluding the mark-to-market adjustments for our unrealized gains and losses recorded in the income statement for contracts settling in future periods.

We believe that these measures represent important internal measures of performance. Accordingly, where these non-GAAP measures are provided, it is done so that investors have the same financial data that management uses in evaluating performance with the belief that it will assist the investment community in assessing our underlying performance on a year-over-year and a quarter-over-quarter basis. However, because these measures are not determined in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States , such measures are susceptible to varying calculations and not all companies calculate the measures in the same manner. As a result the aforementioned measures as presented may not be directly comparable to similarly titled measures presented by other companies. The non-GAAP measures are presented as supplemental information and not as alternatives to any GAAP measurements.

SOURCE AirTran Holdings, Inc.