Spirit Airlines, the fastest-growing commercial air carrier at McCarran International Airport in 2011, produced earnings in line with analysts’ expectations for the first quarter this year.
Miramar, Fla.-based Spirit reoriented its capacity last year, placing additional emphasis on its Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas markets to produce earnings of $23.8 million, 33 cents a share, for the quarter that ended March 31. A year earlier, the company reported earnings of $16.9 million, 24 cents a share.
Spirit increased revenue 29.6 percent over last year’s first quarter at $301.5 million compared with $232.7 million.
Net income increased, despite fuel costs soaring 34.4 percent and double-digit percentage increases in other expenses, including salaries and benefits, aircraft leases, landing fees, airport rents and maintenance.
“I’m pleased with how well our team continues to execute on our network expansion,” Ben Baldanza, Spirit’s president and CEO, said in a statement accompanying this morning’s release on earnings. “We continue to see a growing number of smart, value-conscious consumers respond favorably to our introduction of low fares to even more places.
“Robust demand for our ultra-low base fares with a range of optional services for a fee resulted in our revenue growth outpacing our capacity growth,” he said.
Spirit’s business model includes the offering of discounted base fares and a broad menu of ancillary fees — a strategy similar to the one used by Las Vegas-based Allegiant Air.
In 2011, Spirit was the first airline to introduce the concept of charging passengers a carry-on bag fee for items stowed in overhead bins, a policy replicated earlier this year by Allegiant.
Spirit has maintained an aggressive growth strategy in Las Vegas since the middle of last year when it expanded a schedule that included a flight each to and from Detroit and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to several daily operations to Los Angeles, San Diego and Portland, Ore. The company eventually added operations to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International.
Spirit began flying between Las Vegas and Mesa, Ariz., in February and will begin nonstop flights to and from Denver beginning Thursday and to and from Minneapolis beginning May 31.It greatly expanded its network from Dallas, including the addition of a nonstop route between there and Mexico City that begins on June 21.
The airline flies twin-engine Airbus A320 jets on its routes, adding three planes in the first quarter for a total of 40 in the fleet with four more deliveries expected by the end of 2012.