Alaska Air Group delivers strong fourth quarter 2021 and full-year results

Alaska Air Group Inc. today announced another quarter of improvement in its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2021, and provided an outlook for the first quarter ending March 31, 2022.

“While recovery in our industry is never linear, our caring and dedicated people and the strength of our competitive advantages position us for success no matter what challenges we face,” said CEO Ben Minicucci. “Despite operational disruption from omicron and severe winter weather in December, our fourth quarter adjusted pre-tax margin was 2.4%, marking one of the industry’s most profitable performances in Q4 and the second half of the year. We have laid a solid foundation for our return to 100% of our pre-COVID flying by summer 2022 and we’re poised to grow from there.”

Alaska’s fourth quarter and full year 2021 results reflect a disciplined focus on cost management and a measured approach to bringing back capacity in recovery. In addition to delivering profitability in the second half of the year, Alaska’s financial performance enabled the company to restore its debt-to-capitalization ratio to pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter, priming the airlines for profitable growth in 2022.

Financial Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year:

  • Reported net income for the fourth quarter and full year 2021 under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $18 million, or $0.14 per diluted share, and $478 million, or $3.77 per diluted share. These results compare to a net loss for the fourth quarter and full year 2020 of $447 million, or $3.60 per share, and $1.3 billion, or $10.72 per share.
  • Reported net income for the fourth quarter and net loss for the full year 2021, excluding special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $31 million, or $0.24 per diluted share, and $256 million, or $2.03 per share. These results compare to a net loss for the fourth quarter and full year 2020, excluding special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $316 million, or $2.54 per share, and $1.3 billion, or $10.17 per share.
  • Reported adjusted pre-tax margin for the fourth quarter of 2021 of 2.4%, marking the second profitable quarter on an adjusted basis since the onset of the pandemic.
  • Recorded $42 million and $151 million of incentive pay in the fourth quarter and full year 2021 earned by employees for meeting or exceeding cash flow, cost management, and safety goals, representing approximately three weeks pay for most employees.

Balance Sheet and Liquidity at Year End:

  • Reported a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 49%, a reduction of 12 points from December 31, 2020, and the lowest level since the first quarter of 2020.
  • For the full year, generated $138 million in operating cash flows, net of Payroll Support Program grant funds received.
  • Repaid $112 million in debt in the fourth quarter, bringing total debt payments to $1.3 billion for the year.
  • Held $3.1 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of December 31, 2021.

Operational Updates and Milestones for the Fourth Quarter:

  • Announced nonstop service between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Miami, marking the 100th nonstop destination from Alaska’s Seattle hub.
  • Expanded oneworld partnership with new West Coast international flights between Portland and London Heathrow on British Airways and between Seattle and Helsinki on Finnair. Expanded service will provide Alaska’s guests more than 100 nonstop flights on oneworld partners from the West Coast to Europe by summer 2022.
  • Launched new MVP Gold 100k tier for Mileage Plan members, providing enhanced benefits for those traveling 100,000 miles or more in one year.
  • Named the safest U.S. airline by AirlineRatings.com in their annual Top 20 Safest Airline Report.
  • Received four 737-9 aircraft during the quarter, bringing total additions in 2021 to 11.
  • Began nonstop service to Belize from Seattle and Los Angeles in November, marking the fourth country Alaska flies to from its West Coast hubs.

Fourth Quarter Environmental, Social, and Governance Updates:

  • Announced the appointment of Diana Birkett Rakow as senior vice president of public affairs and sustainability, emphasizing Alaska’s commitment to protect the places it flies and support the communities it serves.
  • Announced collaboration with ZeroAvia to begin development on a hydrogen-electric powertrain engine capable of flying regional aircraft in excess of 500 nautical miles.
  • Expanded inflight sustainability efforts by trading plastic water bottles and cups for Boxed Water Is Better® plant-based cartons and recyclable paper cups. This change will eliminate an estimated 1.8 million pounds of single-use plastics over the next year.
  • Launched partnership with travel2change, a Hawaii-based social and environmental impact organization that connects travelers with sustainable volunteer projects while visiting Hawaii.

The following table reconciles the company’s reported GAAP net income (loss) per share (EPS) for the three and twelve months ended December 31, 2021 and 2020 to adjusted amounts.

Three Months Ended December 31,
2021 2020
(in millions, except per share amounts) Dollars Diluted EPS Dollars EPS
Reported GAAP net income (loss) and diluted EPS $                 18 $             0.14 $             (447) $            (3.60)
Payroll support program wage offset (22) (0.18)
Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments 21 0.16 (8) (0.06)
Special items – impairment charges and other (6) (0.05) 277 2.23
Special items – restructuring charges 2 0.02 (102) (0.82)
Special items – merger-related costs 1 0.01
Special items – net non-operating 26 0.21
Income tax effect on special items and fuel hedge adjustments (4) (0.03) (41) (0.33)
Non-GAAP adjusted net income (loss) and diluted EPS $                 31 $             0.24 $             (316) $            (2.54)
Twelve Months Ended December 31,
2021 2020
(in millions, except per share amounts) Dollars Diluted EPS Dollars EPS
Reported GAAP net income (loss) and diluted EPS $              478 $             3.77 $          (1,324) $          (10.72)
Payroll support program wage offset (914) (7.21) (782) (6.33)
Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments (47) (0.37) (8) (0.06)
Special items – impairment charges and other (1) (0.01) 627 5.08
Special items – restructuring charges (10) (0.08) 220 1.78
Special items – merger-related costs 6 0.05
Special items – net non-operating 26 0.21
Income tax effect on special items and fuel hedge adjustments 238 1.87 (21) (0.18)
Non-GAAP adjusted net loss and diluted EPS $             (256) $            (2.03) $          (1,256) $          (10.17)

Statistical data, as well as a reconciliation of the reported non-GAAP financial measures, can be found in the accompanying tables. A glossary of financial terms can be found on the last page of this release.