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Spirit Airlines (SAVE - Free Report) reported a significant rise in air traffic for the month of October. Traffic — measured in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) — came in at 2.1 billion, up 21.6% on a year-over-year basis. Consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) also expanded 21.2% to 2.53 billion.

Another important metric, load factor (percentage of seats filled by passengers) increased to 83.2% from 82.9% recorded in October 2016. The improvement was owing to traffic growth outpacing capacity expansion for the month.

In fact, this low-cost carrier registered a completion factor (system wide) of 96.4% with 86.7% flights on schedule. Notably, for the first 10 months of 2017, Spirit Airlines registered a 13.6% increase in RPMs to 20.39 billion and a 16.1% rise in ASMs to 24.38 billion, both on a year-over-year basis. However, load factor fell 190 basis points to 83.6% in the period.

Spirit Airlines, which reported upbeat third-quarter results in September, also stated that it expects capacity to expand 16% in 2017 on a year-over-year basis. Cost per available seat mile (CASM), excluding fuel, is projected to increase in the 1.5% to 2% band.

In fact, the company is making significant efforts to expand its operations. To this end, the carrier recently launched non-stop flights connecting New Orleans and four new destinations - Boston, Newark, Tampa, Minneapolis/St. Paul. Flights connecting New Orleans and Columbus, OH are expected to commence from Mar 22, 2018.

Meanwhile, Spirit Airlines is constantly looking to modernize its fleet. The fleet-size is expected to expand to 112, 122 and 161 by the end of 2017, 2018 and 2021, respectively.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Spirit Airlines carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors interested in the Zacks Transportation - Airline industry may consider stocks such as International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (ICAGY - Free Report) , Deutsche Lufthansa AG (DLAKY - Free Report) and SkyWest, Inc. (SKYW - Free Report) . While International Consolidated Airlines sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Deutsche Lufthansa and SkyWest carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here

So far this year, shares of International Consolidated Airlines, Deutsche Lufthansa and SkyWest have surged more than 45%, 100% and 25%, respectively.

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