MIAMI — Virgin America posted a second-quarter profit of $36.9 million on Tuesday, the Burlingame, CA-based carrier reported. The positive performance was driven by higher ticket prices and increased demand bolstered by capacity control.
Operating revenues rose 6.1% year-over-year (YOY) to $398.8 million, led by a 4.9% increase in passenger revenue to $357.6 million. Total revenue per available seat-mile rose (ASM) an impressive 7.8% YOY to 12.46 cents, while passenger revenue per ASM was up 6.6% to 11.17 cents. Yields were up 5%, to 13.51 cents. The strong performance was driven by a combination of increased average ticket prices (up 4.9% YOY to $206.81), fewer available seats (ASMs were down 1.6% YOY), and increased demand (load factors were up 1.2% to 84.9%).
Operating expenses grew a relatively tiny 1% over 2013, leading to a 2.7% YOY increase in costs per ASM to 10.99 cents. The increases were led largely by labor, which grew an impressive 21.2% in part from 125 newly added employees. The growth in costs was largely offset, however, by lower aircraft renting and fuel costs.
Virgin has struggled over the years to keep operations in the black, with this quarter’s profit being one of only several since the airline began flying in 2007. To date it has lost far more than it has made, totaling nearly $400 million, but recent performance suggests it may have turned the corner. The airline recorded its first full-year profit in 2013 as it moved to control capacity and expand higher-yielding, shorter routes.
Pursuant to that goal, Virgin won two gates at the coveted Dallas Love Field airport earlier this year, positioning it with its first major base outside of California. The focus city will further diversify the airline’s short-mid-haul portfolio, and move it away from being dependent on trans-continental flying. It will begin operations in October, 2014.
The company did take a $22 million loss in the first quarter of 2014, though the period is typically a weak performer for the industry.
The carrier recently celebrated its seventh birthday by filing plans to go public. Virgin announced a target of $115 million worth of stock to be offering. It has not said what its ticker will be, or on what index it will be registered.