Spirit Airlines reports 4Q and 2020 financial results

Spirit Airlines, Inc. reported fourth quarter and full year 2020 financial results.

Ended the year 2020 with $1.9 billion of unrestricted cash, cash equivalents

and short-term investment securities

Fourth Quarter 2020 Fourth Quarter 2019
As Reported Adjusted As Reported Adjusted
(GAAP) (non-GAAP) 1 (GAAP) (non-GAAP) 1
Total Operating Revenues $498.5 million $498.5 million $969.8 million $969.8 million
EBITDA $(87.8) million $(88.8) million $186.5 million $191.5 million
EBITDA Margin  (17.6)%  (17.8)%  19.2%  19.7%
Pre-tax Income (Loss) $(204.5) million $(205.5) million $106.8 million $111.7 million
Net Income (Loss) $(157.3) million $(157.7) million $81.2 million $85.0 million
Diluted Earnings (Loss) Per Share $(1.61) $(1.61) $1.18 $1.24

“Soft demand driven by pandemic-related concerns continues to have a significant impact on our operating results. However, our leading low-cost structure remains a key advantage and positions us well to compete in this environment and beyond. Our load factor and Adjusted EBITDA margin for the fourth quarter 2020 are among the best in the industry, illustrating the strength of our business model,” said Ted Christie, Spirit’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “While the road to recovery is anticipated to be choppy, we are confident we will be among the first U.S. carriers to return to profitability.”

Spirit continues to be recognized for a strong reputation within the airline industry and across all industries. The company’s latest accolade was being named to FORTUNE’s 2021 list of World’s Most Admired® Companies. Spirit is one of only three U.S. airlines included on the list, which surveyed top executives and directors from eligible companies, industry experts and financial analysts.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, the Company’s financial and operational outlook remains subject to change. The Company continues to monitor the impacts of the pandemic on its operations and financial condition, and to implement mitigation strategies while working to preserve cash and protect the long-term sustainability of the Company. Spirit has implemented measures for the safety of its Guests and Team Members as well as to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 on its financial position and operations. Please see the Company’s Annual report on Form 10-K for the period ending December 31, 2020 for additional disclosures regarding these measures.

Capacity and Operations
The Company continues to see a significant negative impact to demand for air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Load factor for the fourth quarter 2020 was 71.5 percent on a year-over-year capacity decrease of 25.4 percent.

For the full year 2020, Spirit delivered an outstanding operational performance, with a Completion Factor2 of 97.9 percent and an on-time performance2 of 86.7 percent, as measured by the DOT. For the full year 2020, Spirit expects it will be ranked first in Completion Factor2 and third in on-time performance2 among reporting carriers.

Revenue Performance
Total operating revenues for the fourth quarter 2020 were $498.5 million, a decrease of 48.6 percent year over year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to severely affect demand for air travel.

For the fourth quarter 2020, total revenue per passenger flight segment (“Segment”) decreased 14.5 percent year over year to $94.64. Fare revenue per Segment decreased 25.6 percent to $39.22 while non-ticket revenue per Segment only decreased 4.5 percent to $55.423.

Cost Performance
For the fourth quarter 2020, total GAAP operating expenses were $658.4 million, a decrease of 22.1 percent year over year. Adjusted operating expenses for the fourth quarter 2020 were $659.4 million4, a decrease of 21.5 percent year over year. These changes were primarily driven by a decrease in both fuel rate and volume compared to the fourth quarter last year. Despite the significant decrease in flight volume compared to the fourth quarter last year, some volume-related expenses increased year over year. For example, landing fees and other rents increased 6.8 percent year over year due to rate increases at various airports Spirit serves; and salaries, wages, and benefits (“SWB”) increased 3.1 percent due to an increase in crew members prior to the hiring freeze that followed the onset of COVID-19 pandemic. The SWB related to additional crew members was partially offset by Team Members who participated in voluntary leave programs.

Spirit took delivery of two new A320neo aircraft during the fourth quarter 2020, one of which was debt financed and the other was financed through a sale/leaseback transaction. The Company ended the year with 157 aircraft in its fleet.

Liquidity and Capital Deployment
Spirit ended the year with unrestricted cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investment securities of $1.9 billion. Daily cash burn5 in the fourth quarter 2020 averaged $1.8 million.

Total capital expenditures for the full year 2020 were approximately $537 million (approximately $194 million net of financings).

On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 was signed into law. This new legislation extends the Payroll Support Program (“PSP2”) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) through March 31, 2021. In late December, the Company notified the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“Treasury”) of its intent to participate in the PSP2, and entered into an agreement with the Treasury in connection with this PSP2 funding on January 15, 2021. The Company expects to receive approximately $184.5 million pursuant to the PSP2. In January 2021, the Company received the first installment of $92.2 million in the form of a grant. Of the remaining amount, the Company expects that approximately $25 million will be in the form of a low-interest, 10-year loan. Also, in connection with its participation in PSP2, the Company is required to issue warrants to the Treasury to purchase up to 103,761 shares of the Company’s common stock at a strike price of $24.42 per share (the closing price of the shares of the Company’s common stock on December 24, 2020).

“Our fourth quarter Adjusted EBITDA margin of negative 17.81 percent was in line with our revised guidance, with revenue coming in as expected and non-fuel costs coming in slightly better. In the first quarter 2021, we are facing new travel restrictions and state quarantine requirements which have temporarily stalled the demand recovery. In addition, we are seeing a recent rise in fuel prices compared to the fourth quarter 2020. As such, we estimate our first quarter 2021 Adjusted EBITDA margin will be between negative 45 to negative 55 percent, assuming a fuel price per gallon of $1.75,” said Scott Haralson, Spirit’s Chief Financial Officer. “While these short-term developments are frustrating, sentiment is improving and we are well-positioned to succeed as demand recovers.”

Forward Looking Guidance

First Quarter 2021 (1)
Capacity – Available Seat Miles (ASMs) (% Change vs. 1Q19) (2) Down 17%
Adjusted Operating Expenses ($Millions) (3) $740 to $750
Adjusted EBITDA Margin (%) (3) (45)% to (55)%
Fuel Cost per Gallon ($) (4) $1.75
Effective Tax Rate (3)  21%
Full Year 2021 (1)
Total Capital Expenditures ($Millions) (5)
Pre-delivery deposits, net of refunds $105
Other capital expenditures $60 to $85
Estimated Diluted Share Count (1)
If the Company is in a net loss position, average weighted diluted shares is equal to average basic shares outstanding for the period. If the Company records a net profit, it currently uses the Treasury Stock Method to compute the impact from its convertible debt and warrants on the average weighted diluted share count for the period.
Beginning 1/1/22, if the Company records a net profit, per ASU 2020-06, the Company currently expects to use the “If-Converted Method” for its convertible debt. The dilutive impact from the convertible debt under the “If-Converted Method” based on the convertible debt outstanding as of 12/31/20 is 13.7 million shares. The Company anticipates it will continue to use the Treasury Stock Method for the dilutive impact related to outstanding warrants.
Fleet (1)
Expected aircraft deliveries in 2021 16
Expected aircraft deliveries in 2022 17
The Company’s current fleet plan is available at ir.spirit.com.

(1) The 2021 guidance provided in this document is based on the Company’s preliminary estimates of its first quarter and full year 2021 results, which are subject to change in connection with the completion of the Company’s final closing procedures, final adjustments and other developments that may arise in the course of the preparation or audit of its financial statements.
(2) The Company expects that air travel demand will continue to gradually recover in 2021 and continues to closely monitor demand and will make adjustments to the flight schedule as appropriate. However, the situation continues to be fluid and actual capacity adjustments may be different than what the Company currently expects.
(3) Excludes special items which may include loss on disposal of assets, special charges, and other items which are not estimable at this time.
(4) Includes fuel taxes and into-plane fuel cost.
(5) Total Capital Expenditures assumes all aircraft are either delivered under direct leases or financed through Sale/Leaseback transactions. Other capital expenditures are primarily related to aircraft parts, including one spare engine and other spare parts. During the fourth quarter 2020, the Company accelerated 6 aircraft deliveries into 2022 which increased expected net pre-delivery deposits to be paid in 2021 from $40 million to $105 million.

Full Year 2020 Highlights

Our People

  • Spirit avoided involuntary furloughs of its U.S. unionized and non-unionized employees by providing voluntary leave programs and other cost saving initiatives. Due to the high level of support and acceptance of the voluntary programs offered, no unionized employees were involuntarily furloughed and the total number of non-unionized Team Members involuntarily separated as of October 1, 2020 was reduced by more than 95%;
  • Implemented a Human Rights Policy seeking to build human rights awareness among our Team Members and our Guests; and
  • Furthered its commitment to diversity by developing a comprehensive Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging Initiative to launch in 2021, to drive meaningful change within the organization. This includes a new Supplier Diversity program around a network of minority-owned business partners and diverse suppliers, as part of our strategic sourcing and procurement process.

Recognitions and Accomplishments

  • Spirit was one of only three U.S. airlines listed on FORTUNE’s 2021 list of World’s Most Admired® Companies;
  • Moved up one spot to 4th place in the 2020 edition of the Middle Seat Scorecard, the Wall Street Journal’s annual ranking of U.S. airlines by operational performance; and
  • For the full year 2020, Spirit expects it will be ranked 1st in Completion Factor2 and 3rd in on-time performance2 among DOT reporting carriers.

Guest Experience and Loyalty

  • Spirit implemented efforts to meet or exceed guidelines and rules published by the Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”). Spirit requires all Guests to complete a Health Acknowledgement at check-in, requires Guests and Team Members to wear face coverings throughout their journey, has implemented enhanced cleaning protocols, has updated airport and inflight procedures, and more;
  • Leveraged its technology-driven solutions like automated self-bag tagging and self-bag drop, minimizing face-to-face interaction and enabling Guests to self-serve their check-in experience;
  • Launched the nation’s first check-in experience powered by biometric photo-matching, debuting new protocols developed for domestic air travel;
  • Deployed bag scanning technology to reduce mishandled baggage occurrences and improve accuracy across all airports; and
  • Unveiled a redesigned Free Spirit® Loyalty Program with extended points expiration, additional benefits based on status, and other changes that began January 21, 2021. In addition, the new Spirit Saver$ Club®, formerly known as the $9 Fare Club™, expanded on existing fare discounts by providing savings on seats, shortcut boarding and security, and other options designed to make it the best value in the sky.

Supporting our Communities

  • Spirit helped more than 30,000 Guests return home to their families and loved ones under times of uncertainty due to the pandemic. In partnership with government officials in the U.S., Latin America, and the Caribbean, we organized and operated flights between U.S. and Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Aruba, Haiti, Ecuador, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and St. Martin;
  • Pledged $250,000 worth of airline travel to nine organizations across the U.S., advocating for social justice and civil rights;
  • The Spirit Airlines Charitable Foundation (the “Foundation”) raised over $1,000,000 in its annual fund raising efforts helping to support initiatives that include Aviation and STEM education scholarships and other education, family and military service projects throughout the communities it serves; and,
  • In addition, through the Foundation, Spirit contributed to efforts to address other needs in its communities. As part of its focus on supporting families, the Foundation partnered with other non-profit organizations including the YMCA and Jack and Jill Children’s Center to provide food to Seniors and families in need. Additionally, Spirit supported the production of face coverings for first responders and healthcare workers throughout the pandemic. The Company also raised funds for the American Red Cross, by selling face coverings to Guests at the gates and onboard our aircraft. Among many other initiatives to benefit the communities it serves, Spirit also partnered with Susan G. Komen Organization by raising funds through the sale of branded Breast Cancer Awareness scarves and ties with all proceeds benefiting the charities supported through the Foundation.

Measures Taken to Preserve Cash and Enhance Liquidity

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis that drastically affected the Company’s original 2020 plan, Spirit took several steps to preserve and enhance its liquidity and to protect the long-term sustainability of the Company, including but not limited to, the following:

  • Reduced planned discretionary non-aircraft capital spend in 2020 by more than $70 million;
  • Reduced 2020 planned non-fuel operating costs by approximately $30 million excluding savings related to reduced capacity;
  • Entered into a two-year senior secured revolving credit facility in March 2020 (the “2022 RCF”). As of December 31, 2020, the available amount under the 2022 RCF was $180 million, which was fully drawn;
  • Completed the public offering of $175.0 million aggregate principal amount ($168.3 million in proceeds, net of issuance costs) of 4.75% convertible senior notes due 2025;
  • Completed a primary public offering of 20,125,000 shares of its voting common stock. The Company received proceeds of $192.4 million, net of issuance costs, from this stock offering;
  • Completed a private offering of an aggregate of $850 million principal amount of 8.00% senior secured notes due 2025, guaranteed by Spirit’s loyalty program and brand intellectual property. The Company received proceeds of $823.9 million, net of issuance costs, related to this private offering;
  • Completed the sale of 9,000,000 shares of its common stock pursuant to the at-the-market offering program entered into on July 22, 2020. The Company received proceeds of $156.7 million, net of issuance costs, from this program; and
  • Received $344.4 million in PSP funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”).

New Destinations

  • During 2020, Spirit launched new service to Barranquilla, Colombia; Bucaramanga, Colombia; Cap-Haitien, Haiti; and Orange County, California.