Alaska Air Group reports a loss of $143 million in the first quarter

Alaska Air Group (Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air) today reported financial results for its first quarter ending March 31, 2022 and provided outlook for the second quarter ending June 30, 2022.

“Alaska has a proven track record and a resilient business model that delivers in good times and through challenging ones. We are on course to deliver 6% to 9% adjusted pre-tax margins in 2022, as we recently announced at our investor day,” said Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci. “March results were particularly strong, marked by our highest cash sales month in history and revenues that exceeded 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic began. Our people are working hard to get our airline back to its pre-COVID size and to return to growth from there, all while delivering the operational excellence that we’re known for. It’s an honor to have our company’s hard work recognized by Air Transport World as the 2022 Global Airline of the Year.”

Financial Results:

  • Reported net loss for the first quarter of 2022 under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) of $143 million, or $1.14 per share, compared to a net loss of $131 million, or $1.05 per share in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Reported net loss for the first quarter of 2022, excluding special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $167 million, or $1.33 per share, compared to a net loss, excluding special items and mark-to-market fuel hedge accounting adjustments, of $436 million or $3.51 per share, in the first quarter of 2021.
  • Generated $287 million in operating cash flow for the first quarter, driven by increased advance bookings as both leisure and business demand for air travel continue to recover.
  • Held $2.9 billion in unrestricted cash and marketable securities as of March 31, 2022.
  • Ended the quarter with a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 50%, within our target range of 40% to 50%.

Operational Updates:

  • Announced plans to accelerate the transition of Alaska’s mainline fleet to all-Boeing and introduced new plans to transition Horizon’s regional fleet to all-Embraer jets by the end of 2023. This transition is expected to drive significant economic benefits through cost savings, operational simplicity and better fuel efficiency.
  • Extended the co-branded Mileage Plan credit card agreement with Bank of America through 2030, providing expanded guest benefits and accelerating Alaska’s strategic growth plans in the West Coast.
  • Modified the Boeing aircraft order to include six firm and 41 option 737-10 aircraft and 10 firm 737-8 aircraft. The new mix of aircraft types provides an optimal fleet for our network and anticipated growth.
  • Announced plans to renovate and expand Alaska lounges in Seattle and Portland to provide additional capacity and enhanced amenities, with both expected to open by 2026.
  • Received nine Boeing 737-9 aircraft, bringing the total number of 737-9s in our fleet to 20.
  • Added Air Tahiti Nui as a new global Mileage Plan partner, allowing our guests to earn miles flying nonstop between Seattle or Los Angeles and French Polynesia.
  • Expanded codeshare agreement with Finnair, bringing total codeshare growth to more than 250 routes since Alaska’s entrance into the oneworld alliance in 2021.

Recognition and Awards:

  • Awarded the 2022 Airline of the Year by Air Transport World, given to an airline each year in recognition of outstanding performance, innovation and superior service.
  • Named to the TIME100 Most Influential Companies list, highlighting Alaska’s commitment to make meaningful changes in the climate impact of aviation.

Environmental, Social and Governance Updates:

  • Announced Patricia Bedient as the next chair of Alaska Air Group’s Board of Directors, replacing Brad Tilden effective May 5, 2022.
  • Launched the Ascend Pilot Academy in partnership with Hillsboro Aero Academy, providing aspiring pilots a simpler and more financially accessible path to become a commercial pilot at Horizon and Alaska.
  • Alongside other oneworld partners, signed two offtake agreements to procure sustainable aviation fuel for California operations, beginning in 2024.

The following table reconciles the company’s reported GAAP net loss per share (EPS) for the three months ended March 31, 2022 and 2021 to adjusted amounts.

Three Months Ended March 31,
2022 2021
(in millions, except per-share amounts) Dollars EPS Dollars EPS
GAAP net loss per share $             (143) $            (1.14) $             (131) $            (1.05)
Payroll Support Program grant wage offset (411) (3.31)
Mark-to-market fuel hedge adjustments (107) (0.85) (22) (0.18)
Special items – fleet transition and related charges(a) 75 0.60 18 0.14
Special items – restructuring charges(b) 11 0.09
Income tax effect of reconciling items above 8 0.06 99 0.80
Non-GAAP adjusted net loss per share $             (167) $            (1.33) $             (436) $            (3.51)
(a) Special items – fleet transition and related charges in the three months ended March 31, 2022 are primarily comprised of impairment charges associated on the Q400 fleet that will be retired from the operating service by the end of 2023.
(b) Special items – restructuring charges in the three months ended March 31, 2021 represent adjustments to total estimated cost for pilot incentive leaves as a result of updated recall timing from what was previously anticipated due to schedule changes, training limitations and other factors.

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.

A conference call regarding the first quarter results will be streamed online at 8:30 a.m. PDT on April 21, 2022. It can be accessed at www.alaskaair.com/investors. For those unable to listen to the live broadcast, a replay will be available after the conclusion of the call.

Second Quarter and Full Year 2022 Outlook

Q2 Expectation(a)
Capacity (ASMs) % change versus 2019(a) Down 6% to 9%
Revenue passengers % change versus 2019(a) Down 10% to 12%
Passenger load factor 85% to 88%
Total revenue % change versus 2019(a) Up 5% to 8%
Cost per ASM excluding fuel and special items (CASMex) % change versus 2019(a) Up 16% to 19%
Economic fuel cost per gallon $3.25 to $3.30
Non-operating expense $7 million to $9 million
Adjusted tax rate ~24% to 25%
(a) Due to the unusual nature of 2021 and 2020, all 2022 comparisons are versus the second quarter of 2019.

We recently reduced Q2 scheduled capacity in response to shortfalls in throughput from our pilot training department versus what was originally planned. For this reason, coupled with our commitment to exit the Airbus A320 fleet on an accelerated timeline, as well as persistent high oil prices, we have reduced our planned capacity growth modestly as compared to previous expectations.

For these reasons, we’ve also reduced our full year 2022 capacity expectations from up 1% to 3% versus 2019, to flat to down 3% versus 2019. As a direct result of the reduction in full year capacity expectations, we expect full year 2022 CASMex to be up 6% to 8% compared to our prior expectation of up 3% to 5%. We continue to expect full year 2022 adjusted pre-tax margins between 6% and 9%.

 

This news release may contain forward-looking statements subject to the safe harbor protection provided by Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements relate to future events and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that may cause actual outcomes to be materially different from those indicated by our forward-looking statements, assumptions or beliefs. For a comprehensive discussion of potential risk factors, see Item 1A of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021. Some of these risks include competition, labor costs, relations and availability, general economic conditions including those associated with pandemic recovery, increases in operating costs including fuel, inability to meet cost reduction, ESG and other strategic goals, seasonal fluctuations in demand and financial results, supply chain risks, events that negatively impact aviation safety and security, and changes in laws and regulations that impact our business. All of the forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by reference to the risk factors discussed in our most recent Form 10-K and in our subsequent SEC filings. We operate in a continually changing business environment, and new risk factors emerge from time to time. Management cannot predict such new risk factors, nor can it assess the impact, if any, of such new risk factors on our business or events described in any forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements made today to conform them to actual results. Over time, our actual results, performance or achievements may differ from the anticipated results, performance or achievements that are expressed or implied by our forward-looking statements, assumptions or beliefs and such differences might be significant and materially adverse.