* Oct-Dec profit at $19 million
* Plan to up revenue share from int'l operations - CEO
* To import jet fuel directly in current quarter - CEO
* Shares jump 5 pct
(Adds CEO comments from interview, details on jet fuel, funds)
By Anurag Kotoky
NEW DELHI, Jan 21 India's No. 2 budget carrier
SpiceJet swung to a quarterly profit at the end of
2012, helped by higher fares in a market with reduced capacity,
and said it would target a bigger slice of revenue from
international flights in the future.
SpiceJet said on Monday it earned 1.02 billion rupees
($18.95 million) in October-December, compared with a net loss
of 392.6 million rupees in the year-ago quarter. The news sent
its shares up as much as 7.6 percent.
"Now international revenue is 7 percent of our total. We
would like to grow that to about 20 percent over the next 18-24
months," Chief Executive Neil Mills told Reuters.
SpiceJet currently flies to 42 local destinations and 7
"We will continue to add international routes until we get
up to the 20 percent proportional revenue that we are talking
about," Mills said.
More international flights and lower fuel costs also helped
fourth-quarter results, Mills said.
Fuel costs as a percentage of total revenue came down 5
percentage points to 45 percent in October-December, SpiceJet
said in a statement. State taxes of as high as 30 percent make
India one of the costliest aviation markets.
"The fact remains that the Indian airline industry continues
to bear the brunt of extremely high incidence of taxation...
(that) constitutes the biggest hurdle for domestic carriers in
their quest for long term profitable growth," Mills said in an
SpiceJet said average passenger yields rose 29 percent in
the latest quarter, a period that saw Kingfisher Airlines
, once India's No. 2 carrier, grounding its fleet. A
rise in passenger yields reflects higher airfares.
SpiceJet is widely believed to be a target for global
suitors following a change to Indian law relating to foreign
investment. The company has a relatively healthy balance sheet
thanks to majority-owner Kalanithi Maran, a
politically-connected business tycoon who has been pumping in
money to the carrier on a regular basis, while other Indian
airlines struggle to raise funds.
Qatar Airways and Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd were
reported to be interested in buying a stake in SpiceJet, but
both the airlines have denied any such plan.
"We are looking for an investor, particularly a strategic
investor. But we are really not in a particular hurry to do so,
we have money in the bank today," Mills said.
"We are not desperate to do a deal. But we will do the right
deal when it comes in the interest of shareholders and the
company," he added.
SpiceJet also said it was confident it would be able to
import jet fuel - thus avoiding state taxes of 30 percent - in
the current quarter, after a last bureaucratic hurdle is
crossed, Mills said.
Spicejet and other local carriers applied last year to
import jet fuel but none have been able to do so yet due to
inadequate infrastructure in the country's airports.
"We are ready to do it, pretty much...(we have finalised) 9
commercial contracts to do the import already."
SpiceJet shares, which have more than doubled in the past
year, closed 5 percent up at 46.15 rupees on the Bombay Stock
($1 = 53.8150 Indian rupees)
(Editing by Sophie Walker)