Spirit Airlines hit in 4Q by hurricane Sandy, fuel costs

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Soaring fuel prices and a hurricane proved costly to the fourth quarter bottom-line for low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines.

Revenues per available seat mile (RASM), a key measure of operating efficiency, declined 6.6% year-over-year in the quarter for the Miramar, Florida-based airline.

Combined with a 27.4% increase in fuel bills, the RASM change contributed to an 18.4% decrease Spirit's net income during the fourth quarter. Full-year net income, however, jumped 41.9% overall to $108 million on a 23.1% increase in revenues to $1.32 billion.

"We successfully grew our business, delivered strong financial results and remained committed to our low-cost, low-fare strategy," says Ben Baldanza, Spirit's president and chief executive.

Spirit's fleet grew to 45 aircraft in 2012 and raised year-over-year capacity by 28.3% to 2.96 million available seat miles.

The capacity increase has fueled an expansion on 11 new routes in the fourth quarter. Another 17 routes will open through the first half of 2013, as Spirit anticipates receiving nine new aircraft this year.

Spirit's cash position improved by 21.4% year-over-year to nearly $417 million.