Republic Airways Holdings ( RJET)

Q3 2010 Earnings Call

November 8, 2010 9:30 a.m. ET


Hal Cooper - EVP & CFO

Bryan Bedford - President & CEO

Greg Aretakis - VP, Revenue Production

Daniel Shurz - VP, Planning and Strategy

Joe Allman - VP, Controller

Tim Dooley - Vice President of FP&A


Duane Pfennigwerth - Raymond James

Helane Becker - Dahlman Rose

Michael Linenberg - Deutsche Bank

Stephen O'Hara - Sidoti & Co.

Glenn Engle - Bank of America Merrill Lynch



Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Republic Airways Holdings third quarter 2010 Incorporated earnings conference call. [Operator Instructions.] I would now like to turn the presentation over to your host for today's call Mr. Hal Cooper, chief financial officer. Please proceed.

Hal Cooper

And thank you operator and good morning everyone, welcome to our third quarter 2010 conference call. On the call today we'll have of course Bryan Bedford, our Chairman and CEO; Joe Allman, our Vice President and Corporate Controller; Tim Dooley, our Vice President of FP&A, Greg Aretakis, our Vice President of Revenue Production; and Daniel Shurz, our Vice President of Planning and Strategy. Before we get going, let me start by covering our Safe Harbor disclosure.

Please note that the information contained in our earnings release and this call contains forward-looking information as defined by United States securities laws. Forward-looking information is subject to risk and uncertainties, and we refer you to a summary of risk factors contained in our most recent filings with the SEC.

Okay, with that, first off, as I'm sure you're all aware by now, in conjunction with our earnings release this morning we also issued a press release regarding our filing a prospectus for an equity offering that we are launching today, the proceeds from which will be used for general corporate purposes including to finance a portion of our Embraer 190 aircraft order that was just firmed up last week, and to bolster our liquidity position.

Due to the fact that we are now in registration, we are unable to answer any questions related to the offering on this call, and we'll thank you in advance for respecting this SEC-imposed restriction. With that, I'm going to turn the call over to Bryan, who's got some prepared remarks, and then we will be able to take your questions. Bryan?

Bryan Bedford

Hey thanks Hal and good morning to all of our listeners today. First, of course I'd like to start out by congratulating my 11,000 coworkers on bringing home the best quarterly financial results, frankly, we've ever had at Republic.

This summer, I had a truly unique experience seeing the wonderful work that all of our employees are doing on the front lines by going undercover inside our airline and I'm just so proud to have all of our front line folks working as hard as they are for us, working toward our shared goals of treating our guests with respect and doing everything they can to make this a successful airline. And I think our third quarter results demonstrate that their hard work is paying off. So a big thank you to all 11,000 of my coworkers.

I'd like to highlight a couple of results from our earnings release this morning, so let me start by breaking out some of our fixed-fee business segment results. A very good quarter for us, with pre-tax income of $22.7 million. That's a pre-tax margin of 8.7% on our fixed-fee revenues. And that's slightly better than the 7- 8% guidance that we've historically provided and we improved this result by utilizing the planes a little better and actually had slightly better unit cost performance than we were expecting.

Unit costs ex fuel for the quarter actually dropped to $0.0752 from $0.0761 in the prior third quarter. This is a particularly good result given that our average stage length actually decreased about 5% in our fixed-fee business. Of course, we realize we must remain both a high-reliable airline and a unit cost-competitive airline in order to remain a preferred provider in this segment, and we do remain committed to both operational quality and cost leadership in this market.

Excluding fuel, our fixed-fee service revenues were down about $21 million, or 8% ,on a 7% decrease in block hours, and that's the effect of a reduction of approximately 15 lines of 50-seat [lines] that have exited our fixed-fee business over the last year.

Turning to the Frontier operation, I'm pleased to say that we continue to improve our operational and financial performance. Total revenues were $445.8 million for the quarter. That's an increase of 9.7% from the combined Frontier/Midwest 2009 results, and that revenue increase was achieved on a capacity increase of 7.8% for the third quarter.

Unit revenues in the third quarter came in at $0.1151, which is a 2% increase over '09 results and in line with the guidance of 1-3% we gave on our last call, and I'll ask our VP of revenue management, Greg Aretakis, to give you a little more color on that in just a minute.

Our load factors at Frontier for the quarter remained very strong. We produced an 87.4% load factor for the third quarter, which was another record and compared favorably to the 86.1% load factor in Q3 '09.

Fuel costs for the quarter came in at $2.32 per gallon, and that excludes a $200,000 charge we took for our fuel hedge mark-to-market adjustment.

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