Spirit Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), rejected (07-May-2010) the National Mediation Board’s (NMB) proffer of arbitration on 05-May-2010, triggering the start of a 30-day cooling-off period. The union now awaits the NMB’s notification of the day on which the 30-day clock starts and the date for a possible strike. [more]
Spirit pilots decline arbitration; strike looms
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Spirit Airlines: touting solid financial position, but investors stay laser-focused on unit revenue
During the past year investor attention has pivoted away from Spirit’s steady balance sheet and strong cost base to the company’s deteriorating unit revenue – a scenario most US airlines find themselves dealing with as a result of lower fuel costs driving up capacity and eroding pricing traction.
Growing cash balances and sustaining favourable leverage remain crucial elements of Spirit’s business strategy. Keeping a stable cash position allows the airline to fund its higher than average growth, which continues to deliver strong margins according to Spirit's argument.
Its industry-leading cost performance is key to Spirit’s ability to sustain solid margins even as the US revenue environment remains weak. Although it faces some cost inflation in 2016, the airline remains focused on sustaining one of the best cost performances in the US airline business.
Spirit Airlines touts its operational improvement, but its overall performance remains lacklustre
Spirit Airlines’ top priorities for 2016 are: improving its dismal operations after regularly underperforming the industry, and engendering a more positive relationship with its customers. The results so far are relative. Its on-time performance and customer complaint ratios have improved, yet Spirit's ranking remains near the bottom among airlines whose operational metrics are tracked by the US government. Nevertheless, Spirit is pleased with its progress so far.
Spirit acknowledges its operational performance will never rise to the level of some of the top performers in the US; but it believes that the progress it has made during the country’s busy summer high season will continue into autumn 2016, and the improvement will bolster its ULCC model over the long term.
Spirit’s unit revenue performance during the past year has shown that the ULCC model is not immune from the industry yield pressure that has stubbornly hovered over the US domestic revenue environment during that time. While the market place does remain competitive, Spirit is starting to see encouraging signs of capacity restraint among higher-cost airlines.