Robust revenue growth, healthy cash position, and strong forward bookings
● PLAY carried 212 thousand passengers in Q1 2023 resulting in a load factor of 78.4%
● Q1 was operationally successful with an on-time performance of 85.5%, a considerably better performance than with the airline’s major competitor
● Revenues in Q1 were USD 32.7 million compared to USD 9.6 million in Q1 2022
● Q1 showed ongoing growth in ancillary revenues. PLAY’s bundle launch in February has resulted in a 25% increase in average ancillary revenue per passenger
● Record sales and a clear focus on managing working capital and operating expenses resulted in the cash position at the end of March 2023 being very healthy and higher than year-end 2022
● PLAY was cash positive in Q1 2023. Cash on March 31 amounted to USD 37.6 million including restricted cash. The company has no external interest-bearing debt
● Net loss was USD 17.2 million in Q1 2023 compared to negative USD 11.2 million in Q1 2022
● In Q1 PLAY has shattered previous records for ticket sales, leading to an increase in forward unit revenue. Forward bookings remain strong, with significantly improved booking status compared to the same period last year
● PLAY has added more capacity to existing popular leisure destinations in Southern Europe due to high demand, with year-round services to Lisbon, Barcelona and Madrid and the service to Athens has been extended
PLAY will fly to 37 destinations during 2023, including thirteen new ones
Birgir Jónsson, CEO:
“We are pleased to report that the performance in the first quarter was in line with our expectations and delivered healthy growth and positive developments in key areas. The first quarter of the year is always challenging in the aviation business with low demand and yields and relatively high costs due to various preparations for the all-important summer season. We see very positive signs for the year as our booking flow is very strong, costs are under control and major external factors such as oil prices have been developing positively. A clear sign of this is the fact that we can report a positive cash flow after the first quarter, which is an important achievement for a young airline in a ramp-up phase. We are also providing insights into the year ahead and how we see the next quarters developing, ending in a positive operating profit for the full year. Of course, our business environment is very fluid and subject to many fast-moving external variables, but for now, we see very positive signs for the future.
Our load factor was 78.4%, very acceptable during this seasonal period of low demand. We also carried 212 thousand passengers, four times more than in the same period last year. We are proud to report an impressive on-time performance of 85.5%, demonstrating our continued commitment to operational excellence. Additionally, we saw very positive trends in our ancillary revenues and average yields, highlighting the effectiveness of our commercial strategy and giving us confidence for a good summer season.
In the quarter PLAY experienced record sales. We saw positive development in working capital resulting in an increase in cash, ending the quarter with a healthy cash position of USD 37.6 million. The quarter’s EBIT results were in line with our expectations in this period of ramping up of operations. We must bear in mind that PLAY is in the process of increasing its yearly revenue up to twenty times compared to 2021, ending the year 2023 with revenue of around USD 280-320 million.
Our booking status is significantly stronger than at the same time last year, reflecting the continued positive momentum of our business. Furthermore, we are excited to continue expanding our network, with 37 destinations planned for 2023, including thirteen new ones.
We are now entering the most exciting and fun times of the year for us at PLAY, when we welcome around 200 new colleagues to the team, put 4 brand-new aircraft into operation, and launch many new destinations. The market is receiving us with open arms, as demonstrated by the fact that we see our average revenue growing even as we have nearly doubled our capacity.
I want to express my gratitude to our dedicated team of people at PLAY who have made this all possible. Their hard work and commitment to providing exceptional service to our passengers has been a key factor in our ongoing growth. We are confident in our ability to deliver strong results and look forward to building on this momentum into the future.”
Fourfold increase in Q1 2023 passenger numbers and good load factor growth
PLAY flew 212,408 passengers in Q1 2023, a notable increase of almost four times the number of passengers flown during the same period last year. This remarkable growth is further underscored by the load factor, which rose to an impressive 78.4% during the quarter, from 63.5% in Q1 2022. The improvement in the load factor was driven by rebounding demand for air travel and improved connectivity within the network after PLAY moved from a pure point-to-point network in Q1 2022 to a hub-and-spoke network in spring 2022.
PLAY anticipates carrying 1.5 to 1.7 million passengers in 2023 while achieving a positive EBIT for the full year. The airline is projected to generate revenue of USD 280-320 million in 2023. This guidance remains consistent with the estimates provided in Q4 of the previous year and is based on several factors, including the continued expansion of passenger traffic and load factor, strong forward bookings, month-on-month increase in ancillary revenue, and stable fuel prices.
Of all the passengers in Q1 2023, 29% were traveling from Iceland, 42% to Iceland and 30% were connecting passengers (VIA). March saw a significant year-on-year increase in the number of passengers traveling to Iceland, highlighting PLAY’s commitment to expanding its market share of tourists coming to Iceland. Of all passengers traveling to Iceland in Q1 2023, an estimated 9% flew with PLAY, compared to 4% in Q1 2022. This growth in PLAY’s share of the TO market reflects increased awareness of PLAY in foreign markets. At the same time, forward bookings from foreign travel agencies have improved significantly this year compared to the same time in 2022. Again, this indicates that the awareness of and trust in PLAY in foreign markets has grown.
PLAY achieved an impressive 85.5% on-time performance (arrivals) in Q1 2023, which is a considerably better performance than with the airline’s major competitors. This makes PLAY one of the most dependable carriers in its core markets.
PLAY saw record sales within the quarter, leading to an increase in forward unit revenue.
Q1 2023 financial results
Strong sales and a clear focus on managing working capital and operating expenses resulted in a very healthy cash position at the end of March 2023. The seasonality of the aviation business in PLAY’s markets dictates that quarters one and four are the most challenging financially, so this clearly shows the strength of PLAY’s business model and is a promising sign for the two upcoming all-important quarters over the summer season.
PLAY’s revenue base continued to improve throughout Q1 2023. Revenues for Q1 2023 were USD 32.7 million compared to USD 9.6 million in Q1 2022.
Total cargo revenue in Q1 2023 amounted to USD 893 thousand and continued to grow. New destinations and an increase in frequency for the upcoming weeks and months will open up opportunities for our cargo operation. PLAY’s total revenue per available seat kilometer (TRASK) in Q1 2023 increased by 2% compared to Q1 2022, despite 229% growth in available seat kilometers. This shows the strength of the underlying demand as well as one of the benefits of the hub-and-spoke model, which is improved connectivity.
Since the launch of bundled fares in February 2023, passengers now have the choice of PLAY basic, PLAY value, and PLAY flex bundles when booking their tickets. This new offering has resulted in a significant increase of 25% in average ancillary revenue per passenger in forward bookings. This growth is expected to have a positive impact on PLAY’s long-term revenue growth. As part of the bundle launch, PLAY also introduced additional ancillary products, such as a 23 kg bag and a flexibility product. This is just the beginning of PLAY’s expanding ancillary product range.
Total operating expenses, incl. depreciation, amounted to USD 50.4 million in the quarter resulting in a CASK ex-fuel of 4.5 US cents and 6.4 US cents incl. fuel. Total CASK decreased by 34% compared to the same period last year and was in line with the full year 2022. Lower CASK was driven by one of the benefits of the hub-and-spoke model in the form of improved utilization of the company’s assets. Average daily aircraft utilization increased from just over six hours per day in Q1 2022 to above 11 hours in Q1 2023. Going forward, PLAY expects its unit cost to decrease as we ramp up our operation for the summer season.
Fuel price has decreased from its highest point but still represents a large portion of total cost, or 29.3% of total operating cost. Financial income and expenses were negative in the quarter in the amount of USD 3.8 million, thereof, USD 2.6 million were due to interest expenses of lease liabilities. Net loss in the quarter amounted to USD 17.2 million.
EBIT was negative in Q1 2023 in the amount of USD 17.7 million, compared to USD 13.3 million for the same period last year due to ramping up of operations in preparation for high season. Q1 2023 EBIT was in line with PLAY’s expectations. Despite this, we are projecting positive EBIT for the full year of 2023.
PLAY’s total assets amounted to USD 435.1 million at the end of the period compared to USD 331.5 million at year-end 2022. The company took delivery of and put into operation two aircraft during the period, bringing the total number of aircraft in operation at the end of the quarter to eight. In April, a new aircraft was delivered and added into operation, and another one is expected during Q2 2023. The estimated increase in right-of-use assets and lease liabilities due to the two new aircraft in Q2 2023 is USD 80-90 million. Trade and other receivables amounted to USD 40.6 million and are comprised mostly of acquirer’s unpaid ticket sales. At period-end, the company’s cash position was USD 37.6 million, including restricted cash. Total equity at period-end was USD 18.9 million. The company has no external interest-bearing debt.
Well-positioned to meet our goals for the year
During Q1 2023, PLAY operated flights to 18 destinations in Europe and North America with a fleet of eight aircraft at the end of the quarter. As we move forward, we're excited to expand our operations to 37 destinations in 2023 and have ten aircraft in operation before the summer.
Now that the first winter season of operating a hub-and-spoke network has finished, with associated 229% growth in capacity as measured by available seat kilometers in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022, we look forward to building on top of this foundation that has been established in the coming years. As part of the long-term investment of building a route network, we plan to introduce several new enhancements to the winter schedule 2023-24, including:
· Adding afternoon departures to Copenhagen and London to provide our customers with better city break products and more flexibility
· More capacity to existing popular leisure destinations in Southern Europe
o Year-round service to Lisbon, Barcelona and Madrid
o Extending our service to Athens to the beginning of January 2024
o More capacity to Tenerife and Alicante
o New leisure destination in Southern Europe to be announced soon for winter 2023-24
· Continue to offer services to Salzburg and Geneva during the ski season
o New ski destination to be announced soon
PLAY is poised to continue its growth trajectory in terms of average yields and ancillary revenue, positioning us well to meet our goals for the year. Forward bookings remain strong, with a significantly improved booking status compared to the same period last year.
Investor presentation webcast, April 27, 2023
CEO Birgir Jónsson and CFO Ólafur Þór Jóhannesson will present the company’s results on Thursday, April 27, at 4:15 p.m. (GMT). The presentation will be streamed in English via webcast: https://www.flyplay.com/financial-reports-and-presentations.
· Q2 2023 27 July 2023
· Q3 2023 26 October 2023
· Q4 2023 8 February 2024