Higher traffic, cheap fuel help Jet fly into record profit

This is the third consecutive profitable quarter for Jet Airways, which is the country's second-largest carrier by market share.  

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 06, 2016, 20:12 PM IST
Higher traffic, cheap fuel help Jet fly into record profit

New Delhi: The Naresh Goyal-run Jet Airways on Saturday reported a record stand-alone quarterly profit of Rs 467 crore for the three months ended December, driven by 15 percent domestic traffic growth and lower fuel costs.

The profit reflects a multi-fold growth from Rs 63 crore reported in the year-ago period.

This is the third consecutive profitable quarter for Jet Airways, which is the country's second-largest carrier by market share.

Chairman Naresh Goyal said that had it not been for the forex losses, net profit would have been higher at Rs 515 crore.

In the latest December quarter, Jet Airways' revenue rose by Rs 266 crore to Rs 5,702 crore while passenger revenue climbed 4.8 percent to Rs 4,845 crore.

An other income of Rs 192 crore as well as decline in finance cost to Rs 214 crore from Rs 226 crore in the year-ago period also boosted the bottom line.

While the domestic revenue rose to Rs 2,371 crore from Rs 2,027 crore, its international income inched up to Rs 3,072 crore from Rs 3,023 crore.

The carrier's domestic capacity grew 14.6 percent and passenger traffic jumped 15 percent in the latest December quarter.

Higher passenger traffic and the increased aircraft utilisation led to increase in average seat per kilometre (ASKM), which helped in improving both operating and financial performance.

In a statement, Goyal attributed "the record quarterly profit" to the overall strong financial performance arising from several initiatives undertaken to improve productivity and efficiency, which validates its turnaround plan.

The plan was unveiled after it sold 24 percent equity to the UAE national carrier Etihad in April 2013 for around Rs 2,058 crore.

The airline group, which also operates a domestic sub-brand Jet Konnect, which is being integrated with the main brand, did not provide the consolidated numbers.

It can be noted that airlines, which burn nearly half of their income on fuel cost alone, due to higher state level levies, have been on a comeback trail with the steep fall in crude price, which since June 2014 has fallen nearly 75 percent.

Last month, InterGlobe Aviation, which runs IndiGo, reported a better-than-expected net income of Rs 657.28 crore for the three months to December 2015, up 24 percent from the year-ago period.

Similarly, smaller rival SpiceJet saw its net profit climb to Rs 238.4 crore, marking a fourth consecutive profitable quarter. 

The airline, in a statement, said its pre-tax profit (Ebidta) quadrupled to Rs 751 crore during the reporting period.

Jet Airways Vice-Chairman, and President and Chief Executive of Etihad Airways James Hogan said: "We are very satisfied with the operating and financial performance of Jet that has resulted in record profits. We remain committed to providing solid support and driving further synergies between the two partners."

The airline said its domestic ASKM grew 24 percent even without adding any new aircraft. Aircraft utilisation for the Boeing 737 fleet continues to rise and reached 13.07 hours, a figure the airline claimed is one of the highest in the industry.

Jet Chief Executive Cramer Ball, who is serving his notice period, said, "Our strong operational performance resulting in record profit demonstrates the progress we continue to make in our turnaround plan. The key achievements during the quarter have been lower cost per ASK excluding fuel and higher aircraft utilisation, resulting in additional capacity equivalent of nine 737 planes without any addition to the fleet."

Further, Ball said, "A focus on cost reduction initiatives has resulted in the non-fuel cost per average seat kilometer (ASK) coming down by 4.6 percent while total cost per ASK declined 15 percent."

During the quarter, Jet has further enhanced its synergies with partners, expanding its code share partnership with Etihad.

Overall code share traffic grew 28 percent from 4,16,816 passengers in October-December of 2014-15 to 5,34,104 in the reporting period, with code share traffic with strategic Etihad and its partner airlines rising as much as 86 per cent. And this makes Jet, together with Etihad, enjoy the largest market share in international traffic.

Going forward, the airline will focus on cost reduction and leveraging commercial and operational synergies through "our partnership with Etihad to tide over the competitive and structural challenges in the market".

Jet Airways group currently connects 73 routes, including over 20 international destinations, operating a fleet of 116 aircraft.

In anticipation of good numbers, the Jet Airways stock rallied close to 8 percent to 570.85 on BSE on Friday on a day when the benchmark jumped 279 points.