Mostly metrics
Run the Numbers
Unpacking Spirit Airlines' Complex Financial Model with CFO Scott Haralson

Unpacking Spirit Airlines' Complex Financial Model with CFO Scott Haralson

Scott Haralson, CFO of Spirit Airlines, joins CJ in this episode to discuss the complexities of operating an airline business. He explains what it means to run an ultra-low-cost carrier model and what goes into calculating the operating costs per available seat mile, Spirit’s most important metric. He talks about the difficulty of forecasting for an airline, explaining the costs you may not think about, what goes into network planning, the challenges of hedging fuel prices, navigating capital intensive decisions such as buying airplanes, and doing all of the above through unpredictable economic cycles and volatility. He also sheds light on why Spirit’s ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is leisure travelers over business travelers and the important role of dynamic pricing in the airline industry. 

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@cjgustafson222 (CJ)


(00:00) Preview and Intro

(02:40) Sponsor - Leapfin | Mercury

(04:46) Unit Cost Production in an Ultra-low-cost Carrier Model

(08:02) The North Star Metric of Cost Per Available Seat Mile

(13:24) Spirit’s ICP of Leisure Travelers Over Business Travelers

(16:10) The Impact of Flight Utilization on Spirit’s Business Model

(19:42) Sponsor - NetSuite | Maxio 

(22:11) The Difficulty of Forecasting for an Airline 

(29:52) Flight Profitability and Network Planning

(31:21) The Operating Costs of Running an Airline

(37:06) Navigating Economic Cycles and Volatility in the Airline Industry 

(39:52) The Challenges of Hedging the Fuel Price

(44:33) Understanding Major Capital Allocation Decisions

(48:24) Navigating Dynamic Pricing  

(54:16) Scott’s Advice on Understanding What Really Matters

(55:33) Spirit Airlines’ Finance Software Stack

(57:54) Craziest Expense

Mostly metrics
Run the Numbers
Run the Numbers is a twice-weekly podcast about financial metrics and business models, designed for ambitious people operating tech startups. It's a collection of things host CJ Gustafson (CFO at Partstech and writer of Mostly Metrics) has learned and thought about in the trenches as a tech CFO.
This show is meant to serve as a playbook of sorts for the stuff CJ wishes he knew earlier in his career, both from experience and from copying people smarter than himself.
Topics frequently touch upon Startup SaaS Metrics, Annual Budgeting, Financial Forecasting, Headcount, Equity, Dilution, and Fundraising – and how all of these drive business performance and growth.