Spirit Airlines has fourth consecutive profitable year in 2012

A Spirit Airlines jet takes off from McCarran International Airport on Friday, Aug. 26, 2011.

Spirit Airlines, the fastest-growing air carrier at McCarran International Airport last year, reported its fourth straight profitable year and improved financial results in 2012, despite a fourth quarter hampered by cancellations resulting from Hurricane Sandy.

The Miramar, Fla.-based discount airline reported fourth-quarter earnings of $19.6 million, 27 cents a share, on revenue of $328.3 million. That compared with earnings of $24 million, 33 cents a share, on revenue of $273.9 million for the same quarter a year earlier.

For the year, Spirit reported earnings of $108.5 million, a 41.9 percent increase over 2011, and revenue of $1.32 billion, a 23.1 percent improvement over the previous year.

Spirit averages 19 flights a day to 11 destinations from McCarran. The company has more Las Vegas flights a week than US Airways or Allegiant Air.

The company estimated it took a $25 million financial hit as a result of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast in late October.

Highlights from Spirit’s earnings report:

• Spirit reported a 33.3 percent increase, to $139.5 million in the fourth quarter, and a 40.4 percent increase, to $535.6 million for 2012, in “non-ticket operating revenues,” much of which was generated by the airline’s ancillary fee structure.

• The company reported a dip in spring bookings attributed to customers canceling spring break trips because several school districts canceled their spring breaks as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

• The company will get nine new aircraft delivered this year.

• Spirit began or reported 28 new routes and markets in the fourth quarter, three of them involving Las Vegas. The company began flights between McCarran and Houston in October. Service will begin between Las Vegas and Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Philadelphia on April 25.

Executive quote: “We’re a growth company and we expect to expand by 15 to 20 percent with the acquisition of new aircraft.” — Ben Baldanza, Spirit Airlines CEO in today’s earnings conference call.