Hawaiian Air flyin'


POSTED: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hawaiian Airlines' parent company blew past analysts' estimates in the first quarter and posted a profit of $23.5 million as a 44.9 percent year-over-year decline in fuel prices more than offset weaker demand for Hawaii vacations.

The carrier also said that several years of cost controls also helped the bottom line.




Turning it around


        First-quarter net

        $23.5 million

Year-earlier loss
        $19.9 million


Hawaiian Holdings' earnings per share of 46 cents easily beat the 16 cents a share forecast by three analysts.

In the first quarter of 2008, Hawaiian lost $19.9 million, or 42 cents a share.

Revenue jumped 14.9 percent to $288.6 million from $251.2 million a year earlier, largely due to the expansion of the company's interisland operation in the second quarter of 2008 following the shutdown of Aloha and ATA airlines. Hawaiian also phased in four Boeing 717 aircraft to its fleet beginning in August.

“;Our first-quarter financial performance was good in absolute terms and notably better than that of most of our competitors,”; Hawaiian President and Chief Executive Mark Dunkerley said.

Dunkerley said future short-term bookings remain “;robust,”; although the fares are lower than the first quarter and below those of last year. He said that while bookings are now being made closer to the travel date, the strong first-quarter results “;provide a good foundation upon which to build as we approach the summer travel season.”;

Hawaiian ended the quarter with $248 million in unrestricted cash and $34.7 million in restricted cash.

Dunkerley said Mokulele Airlines' interisland expansion into jet service through its partnership with Indianapolis-based Republic Airways has precipitated a return of unsustainable pricing to the market that was initiated in June 2006 when Mesa Air Group's go! began service.

He said total industry interisland traffic declined about 20 percent year over year in the first quarter due to the economic malaise, and that discounted fares will tend to suppress the financial performance of Hawaiian's interisland business.

Yet, Dunkerley said, Hawaiian enjoys a strong position with interisland customers.

“;And the effects,”; he said, “;of the current fare discounting are unlikely to be as damaging to our business as was the pricing by Mesa when they entered the market three years ago.”;