WestJet profitable despite 4Q2009 slump; Equal mix of profitable/non-profitable routes for AirAsia X

WestJet (shares up 1.2%) reported its 19th consecutive quarter of profitability in the three months ended Dec-2009, but unveiled a 52% slump in net profit (to USD19.3 million) and a 7.4% reduction in revenues (to USD545 million).

The weaker result nevertheless prompted CEO, Sean Durfy, to state that the Canadian LCC was “once again one of the top performers in the North American airline industry”. Mr Durfy added that he was “ecstatic and extremely pleased" with the results, noting the LCC's ability to remain profitable during 2009 shows its “business model works even in the darkest times”.

The carrier reported a 7.4% RASM decline in the period (to USD 12.35 cents), less than the expected decline of 11-13%, due to a better-than-anticipated performance in Dec-2009. The carrier’s yields were down 11.0% (to USD 15.74 cents) in the quarter.

Looking forward, Mr Durfy commented that the carrier is expecting continued pressure on fares in 1Q2010 (with RASM tracking for a year-on-year decline of less than 5%), but added that it expected continued profitability in 2010.

AirAsia X has an equal mix of profitable and non-profitable routes: CEO

AirAsia X CEO, Azran Osman-Rani, stated the carrier now has an equal mix of profitable and non-profitable routes, with the carrier’s Taipei service breaking even after six months of operations. Mr Osman-Rani expects the London service will need between 12 to 18 months until it breaks even. Mr Osman-Rani added that plans to launch services to Incheon and Sydney were “critical for our own business, for us to sustain our business model”. Shares in AirAsia X parent, AirAsia, slipped 1.4% yesterday.

Alexander Lebedev denies interest in NIKI shareholding

Meanwhile, Russian billionaire, Alexander Lebedev, denied reports by Die Pressie that he was considering acquiring a stake in NIKI. NIKI is currently in “advanced talks” with existing shareholder, Air Berlin, regarding the German LCC increasing its stake in NIKI.

Selected LCCs daily share price movements (% change): 17-Feb-2010