India's SpiceJet posts surge in Q3 passenger revenue on travel rebound

A SpiceJet Boeing 737 passenger aircraft takes off from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel international airport in Ahmedabad

BENGALURU (Reuters) -India's SpiceJet Ltd reported a 33% surge in third-quarter passenger revenue on Friday as the low-cost carrier flew more customers at higher fares amid a boom in travel demand, sending shares up 13% to a two-month high.

The results come as the cash-strapped airline looks to raise capital with competition heating up in the industry.

A rebound in passenger travel ensured strength in revenue for airlines like SpiceJet and rival IndiGo.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, SpiceJet's passenger revenue surged 33% as yields, a proxy for airfares, jumped 21%.

That helped offset a sharp decline in revenue from its freight and logistics business. Overall revenue was up 2.5% at 23.15 billion rupees.

"There are renewed signs of recovery and some very positive developments and restructuring initiatives in the immediate offing that would significantly strengthen and de-leverage our balance sheet," Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, said in a statement.

Profit rose to 1.07 billion rupees ($12.93 million) for the three months ended Dec. 31 from 232.8 million rupees in the year-ago quarter, which was impacted by a one-off expense of 774.6 million rupees related to a settlement with an aircraft manufacturer.

The company said average aviation turbine fuel price rose by 48% during the quarter, while the Indian rupee depreciated 11% against the U.S. dollar.

The carrier's load factor, or the passenger carrying capacity being utilised, improved to 91% from 85.2%.

Meanwhile, SpiceJet rescheduled its board meeting to consider capital raising options from Friday to Feb. 27.

The airline last year suffered a string of mid-air safety lapses that drove India's aviation regulator to halve its approved fleet in July 2022. The curb was removed on Oct. 30.

($1 = 82.7550 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman and Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Sohini Goswami)