Spirit Posts $65 Million Second-quarter Profit

July 29--Spirit Airlines profit soared in the second quarter, fueled by additional flights and higher passenger demand.

Net income rose 54 percent to $64.8 million or 88 cents a share, compared to $42.1 million or 58 cents in the same quarter a year ago, the Miramar-based low-cost carrier announced Tuesday.

Operating revenue grew 22.6 percent to $499.3 million, the increase driven in part by growth in flight volume and capacity increases.

"We had a great second quarter," Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza told analysts in an earnings call, adding the airline is anticipating "a good third-quarter" as well.

Spirit is the No. 3 carrier at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, with 17.7 percent of passenger traffic this year through May, behind JetBlue Airways and Southwest/AirTran, according to airport data.

The carrier's new "Less Money, More Go" campaign launched in May to better help consumers understand its "bare fare" pricing model is "resonating well with customers as they see the benefit of only paying for what they truly value," Baldanza said.

Spirit's low-cost carrier's pricing structure rests on offering the lowest base fare possible, while charging additional for optional services such as checked bags, advance seat assignments and in-flight drinks and snacks.

During the quarter, average base fare per passenger segment jumped 9.3 percent from last year to $84.75, driven by a strong demand environment, Spirit said. Meanwhile, average non-ticket revenue from optional services rose 3.2 percent to $55.15.

Spirit said it's encouraged by recent initiatives to boost ancillary revenue such as adding seat assignment purchases at airport kiosks and increasing bag fees for peak summer times.

Still, there's more room to grow non-ticket revenue, Baldanza said.

"We want to grow ancillary revenue and are looking for ways to increase [it]."

Spirit shares fell $1.18 or 1.74 percent, to $66.54 in NASDAQ trading Tuesday.

asatchell@tribune.com, 954-356-4209 or Twitter@TheSatchreport.

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