Spirit Airlines’ Financial Results: You May Not Fly Them, But Lots of People Do

I don’t write much about airline financial results (I’ll leave that to others…I’ll just focus on writing about the Chase Sapphire card 3 days a week…oh wait, that’s not me. sort of.) Where was I? Oh yes, airline financial results.

Spirit Airlines announced their full-year financial results, and they were impressive, earning $76 million on about $1 billion in revenue. I wanted to point out a few areas that I thought were noteworthy:

– I know people complain about Spirit incessantly. That’s fine – you are entitled to your opinion, and I certainly agree with some of the issues people have (though not all). But that’s not stopping people from flying them. Spirit increased available seat miles (roughly, a measure of capacity) by 15% and grew load factors from 82% to 85%, meaning their planes were 85% full.

– People are paying those ancillary fees. Last year they made $35 per passenger from ancillary fees; this year that increased 28% to $44.79. Given their average fare of about $81, that means ancillary fees make up 35% of their revenue per passenger. That’s unbelievable. Charging people to bring a bag on board is certainly helping with that. But people are not pushing back — their passenger base keeps growing, and they continue to pay more in ancillary fees. In fact, ancillary fees grew 28% while fares only grew about 4%. What’s that mean? They can continue to promote low fares while still growing their revenue per passenger. I know that angers lots of people; but it doesn’t anger lots and lots of others.

– They would not have been profitable without ancillary fees. Their cost per passenger was about $92, but they only earned $81 from fares — an $11 deficit. They made up the difference (and quite a bit more) with ancillary fees. Those will continue to grow, since their profitability depends on it.

– No one is immune from rising fuel prices. Their cost per available seat mile (CASM) was $5.72 without fuel and $9.91 with fuel — fuel made up 42% of their total cost per mile.

Just wanted to share — if you hated Spirit before because of all the ancillary charges, you will likely hate them more in the future.


  1. Good for them. I’ll fly with them again if the (total) price is right.