JetBlue operating income slides 33% to $59m in Q1

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JetBlue Airways' first quarter results were hurt by continuing disruption of air travel caused by Hurricane Sandy, with the carrier reporting operating income of $59 million for first quarter of 2013, down 33% from the same period last year.

Net income for the quarter was $14 million, down roughly 50% from the first quarter of 2012, the carrier reports in financial results released Thursday.

"First quarter results were solid but below those of a year ago, primarily due to Hurricane Sandy-related demand weakness in the Northeast during the peak Presidents' Day travel period and higher than expected maintenance costs during the quarter," says JetBlue president and chief executive officer Dave Barger in a media release. "While the first quarter was challenging, we remain focused on achieving sustainable, profitable growth and are optimistic about the rest of the year."

Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey in October 2012, but flooding from the storm left widespread damage that the carrier said impacted its revenue into the first quarter of the year.

Revenue during the President's Day travel period in mid-February was down $25 million, JetBlue says.

The carrier's operating revenue during the quarter was $1.3 billion, up 8%. Revenue passenger miles increased 7.6% to 8.5 billion and capacity increased 6.3%. The average load factor for the quarter was 84%, up one point year-over-year.

Operating expenses increased 11% to $126 million.

The carrier says it spent $20 million more than expected on maintenance of its Embraer 190 aircraft.

JetBlue has scheduled an earnings call later this morning to discuss the results.