Republic Airways Holdings (Indianapolis) reported a net loss of $7.1 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31, 2012, compared to a net loss of $22.4 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for the same period last year.
Republic revenues decreased 4.5%, compared to the prior year’s first quarter on a 4.7% decrease in block hours. As of March 31, 2012, Republic operated 19 fewer 37-50 seat aircraft than a year ago, resulting in lower block hour production. Republic also redeployed 14 of 17 EJet aircraft that were flown on behalf of Frontier in 2011 back into fixed-fee service with Delta.
Income before taxes for Republic was $10.9 million for the quarter, compared to a pre-tax income of $3.1 million for the first quarter of 2011. The improvement in Republic’s first quarter result stems from a significant reduction in pro-rate flying and related losses that were incurred in the first quarter of 2011 on sub-99 seat aircraft operating on behalf of Frontier.
Fuel costs for Republic were $59.8 million for the quarter, a decrease of $15.8 million from the prior year’s first quarter. The price per gallon increased 7.8% from $3.09 to $3.33 for the quarter, but the increase in pricing was more than offset by the reduction in consumption associated with the significant reduction in pro-rate operations.
Cost per Available Seat Mile (CASM), including interest expense but excluding fuel, increased 4.5% to 8.44¢ for the first quarter of 2012, from 8.08¢ for the same quarter of 2011. The increase is a result of unassigned aircraft expenses, increased employee benefit costs and higher maintenance expenses.
As of March 31, 2012, Republic operated 56 aircraft with 44-50 seats and 126 aircraft with 69-80 seats under fixed-fee commercial agreements. Additionally, Republic operated three aircraft with 50 seats and 19 aircraft with 74-99 seats under pro-rate agreements with Frontier. Seventeen 37-76 seat aircraft were unassigned as of March 31, 2012. The Company recently entered into long-term, offshore agreements to sublease three of its E170 aircraft, which are expected to be delivered to the new lessee between June and September of 2012.
The Frontier Airlines (2nd) (Denver) continues to be a drag for the holding company. However Frontier made improvements during this quarter. For the quarter ended March 31, 2012, Frontier posted a pre-tax loss of $21.6 million compared to a pre-tax loss of $39.0 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2011.
Frontier’s total revenues increased 19.2% to $342.4 million for the quarter, compared to $287.3 million for the same period in 2011. Capacity on Frontier, as measured by ASMs, was up 10.8% from the prior year’s first quarter, reflecting the year-over-year effect of the addition of A319 and A320 aircraft to the fleet during the first half of 2011. Load factor for the first quarter was a record 84.7%, and an increase of 4.1 points from the first quarter of 2011. Total revenue per ASM (TRASM) was 11.41¢, up 7.5% from the same quarter in 2011.
The operating unit cost for Frontier operations, excluding fuel, was 7.68¢ for the quarter, a 5.1% decrease compared to 8.09¢ for the same quarter of 2011, due primarily to an increase in average aircraft seat density and lower non-fuel expenses in the current quarter. Frontier’s unit cost for the first quarter of 2012 includes approximately 0.84¢ related to certain expenses associated with pro-rate operations between Republic and Frontier.
Under the Company’s arms-length pro-rate agreements, Republic is allocated an industry standard pro-rata portion of ticket revenue, while Frontier retains all connect revenues as well as ancillary revenues on regional flights. Frontier maintains certain rights to deploy the regional aircraft and maintains control of pricing and revenue management. Frontier also retains responsibility for all customer service expenses, including airport rents. Selling and distribution costs are shared between Republic and Frontier.
Fuel costs for Frontier were $131.9 million for the quarter, an increase of $26.8 million from the prior year’s first quarter. The fuel cost per gallon, including into-plane taxes and fees, increased 18.5% to $3.39 for the first quarter of 2012, compared to $2.86 for last year’s first quarter. The first quarter 2011 result included a gain on fuel hedges of $8.7 million, or $0.23 per gallon. There were no hedge positions for the first quarter of 2012.
As of March 31, 2012, Frontier operated a total of 60 Airbus aircraft. During the second-quarter of 2012, Frontier will be reconfiguring its fleet of 15 A320 aircraft (see above) to include six additional seats, increasing seat density from 162 to 168 seats. Frontier also plans to add one A320 aircraft during the second quarter of 2012, increasing its A320 operational fleet to 16 aircraft. Certain of Frontier’s aircraft operate under fixed-price, multi-year charter agreements. Revenues earned under these agreements are reported as other revenue in our consolidated statement of operations.
Republic’s total cash balance increased $25.8 million to $396.5 million as of March 31, 2012, compared to December 31, 2011. Restricted cash increased $67.6 million, to $219.0 million, from December 31, 2011. The Company’s unrestricted cash balance decreased $41.8 million, to $177.5 million, from December 31, 2011. A condensed cash flow statement has been provided in the tables section of this release.
Republic’s debt decreased to $2.31 billion as of March 31, 2012, compared to $2.36 billion at December 31, 2011. As of March 31, 2012, approximately 85% of the total debt is fixed-rate. The Company has significant long-term lease obligations for aircraft that are classified as operating leases and are not reflected as liabilities on the Company’s consolidated balance sheet. At a 6.0% discount factor, the present value of these lease obligations was approximately $1.15 billion as of March 31, 2012. A condensed balance sheet as of March 31, 2012 and December 31, 2011 has been provided in the tables section of this release.
Republic has engaged Seabury Advisors to assist the company in a comprehensive restructuring effort for the Chautauqua Airlines subsidiary, which operates our small regional jets (see below).
Republic Airways Holdings is an airline holding company that owns Chautauqua Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Republic Airlines and Shuttle America.
Top Copyright Photo: Luimer Cordero.
Frontier Slide Show: CLICK HERE
US Airways Express-Chautauqua Slide Show: CLICK HERE
Bottom Copyright Photo: Tony Storck. Chautauqua’s future is somewhat murky pending recommendations for its future from Seabury.