MIAMI — Allegiant Air was the latest carrier to announce profits in the fourth quarter and year, driven by lower fuel prices. The Las Vegas-based airline posted lower earnings in the fourth quarter, with a net income of $4.8 million, down 72.6 percent from the same quarter in 2013. For the year, the carrier posted net income of $92.3 million, down 6.1 percent from 2013, and posted its 48th consecutive profitable quarter.

For the full year, Allegiant’s total operating expense per ASM (CASM) rose 6 percent year over year, but CASM excluding fuel was hurt by non-recurring expenses related to training and crew availability delays. The delays cost the airline $25 million in incremental expense in the form of labor inefficiencies, aircraft sub-service, crew training and displacement costs.

The carrier also incurred a $43.3 million non-cash impairment charge in the fourth quarter to cover the write-down of its six Boeing 757s and increased flight simulator training time needed to handle projected first quarter staffing requirements.

Allegiant reported that fuel in the quarter dropped 12 percent, driven by a 19.9 percent decrease in the price per gallon paid. It also credited its Airbus fleet for being more fuel efficient than its MD-80s.

Other highlights in the fourth quarter and 2014 included:

  • The board approved a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on January 27, 2015, with the initial distribution to be made on March 17, 2015 to all shareholders of record as of March 4, 2015;
  • Allegiant returned $139.1 million to shareholders through the repurchase of 1.3 million shares in 2014;
  • It announced service to six new cities including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Indiana, Omaha, Nebraska, Richmond, Virginia, New Orleans, and Jacksonville, Florida;
  • The carrier added 25 routes in 2014; and
  • Allegiant ended the year with four A319s and seven A320s.

Looking ahead to 2015, Allegiant reported that it expects CASM, excluding fuel, to increase between 6 and 8 percent. It also expects salaries and wages to increase due to elevated flight crew staffing levels and maintenance support staff for increased East Coast flying operations.