Spirit Airways CEO lashes out at chapter hypothesis

Do not take heed to the naysayers; Spirit Airways is right here to remain.

That was the message from CEO Ted Christie on Thursday as he vociferously rejected recommendations that Spirit might be on observe to file for chapter and maybe even dissolve.

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“This misguided narrative has been superior by an assortment of pundits,” Christie mentioned on the prime of the airline’s fourth quarter earnings name on Thursday throughout which Spirit reported a lack of $184 million for interval. “Nonetheless, again in the actual world, we’re targeted on details.”

Hypothesis over a attainable chapter emerged nearly instantly following a ruling by federal District Courtroom Choose William G. Younger that blocked a merger between Spirit and JetBlue.

Below the phrases of the merger, JetBlue would purchase Spirit and take in its airplanes, workers and different belongings underneath its personal model. The airways are interesting the choice, though JetBlue has indicated it could search to terminate the merger settlement.

Throughout a November antitrust trial in Boston, JetBlue argued that it wanted Spirit’s plane and crew members with a view to supercharge its development to a dimension that might enable it to compete with larger U.S. carriers. Spirit mentioned that it was in a precarious monetary place and will not compete successfully with its specific ultra-low-cost enterprise mannequin.

On Thursday, nonetheless, Christie mentioned Spirit was making adjustments to its enterprise that might put it on observe to return to profitability for the primary time because the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Liquidity is all the time king and now we have enhanced our ranges to present us the mandatory flexibility to efficiently shut with Jet Blue or to pursue our standalone plans,” Christie mentioned.

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Final month, Spirit accomplished a “sale and leaseback” of 25 plane, a maneuver by which it offered the airplanes to a lessor with a view to elevate money and eradicate debt, after which leases them again to proceed utilizing them. The airline netted round $419 million in money.

Over the approaching months, Spirit plans to make adjustments to its community development, the occasions of day it operates flights (peak vs. off-peak) together with its market and geographic focus, Christie mentioned.

However, Christie mentioned that Spirit plans to proceed to aggressively enchantment the choice blocking the merger.

“This case ought to by no means have been introduced. It is past absurd for the federal government to say a victory for the American client,” Christie advised traders. “In actual fact, it is ridiculous.”

Earlier mergers that the federal government accredited has left the U.S. airline business as an oligopoly, Christie mentioned, with just some bigger corporations on the prime controlling the “overwhelming majority of the market.” American Airways, Delta Air Strains, United Airways, and Southwest Airways management roughly 80% of the U.S. market.

Associated: Spirit noticed Northeast Alliance as largest menace to JetBlue merger, testimony reveals

“The federal government continues to do nothing to handle the anti-competitive construction of our business,” Christie mentioned. “As an alternative, they’ve simply engaged in an costly and lengthy litigation course of to dam the merger of the sixth and seventh largest airways that, when mixed, would nonetheless be half the scale of the fourth.”

“Nonetheless, you’ll be able to relaxation assured that the Spirit crew is 100% clear and targeted on the changes we’re at present deploying and can proceed to make all through 2024 to drive us again to money circulation technology and profitability,” Christie added.

The enchantment is scheduled for June within the Boston-based First U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals.

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