JetBlue orders 40 A320neos, converts 30 A320 orders to A321s

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Long-time Airbus customer JetBlue Airways is the latest carrier to order the re-engined A320neo, pledging to acquire 40 of the type as part of a raft of adjustments to its narrowbody fleet.

The low cost carrier also plans to convert 30 of its 52 firm A320 orders to the larger A321s powered by IAE V2500 engines. JetBlue has only operated the A320 model since its launch 11 years ago.

Additionally, JetBlue is deferring eight A320s originally scheduled from 2014-15 to 2017 to reduce its capital commitments in the near term.

Airbus is finally granting JetBlue's wishes for a winglet retrofit programme, and is working with the airline to become a launch customer to retrofit its existing A320 fleet. JetBlue's A320 deliveries from 2013 will feature sharklets first unveiled by Airbus in 2008.

JetBlue has not yet selected an engine for its A320neo aircraft, but all its existing narrowbodies are powered by the V2500. Deliveries of the A320neo are scheduled to begin once the carrier accepts delivery of all 52 A320 family aircraft from its existing orderbook.

Outlining JetBlue's logic for the fleet adjustments carrier CEO Dave Barger said: "We are now at the point where the balance between frequency and capacity is tipping in favour of capacity, and we are exercising our most strategic asset - our order book - to better match capacity with growing network demand."

JetBlue's strategy for its 100-seat Embraer E-190s is to optimise to the fleet at 75 aircraft, the carrier explained. As of 31 March, JetBlue operated 49 of the type.