JetBlue to continue Latin America growth in 2014

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The bulk of JetBlue Airways’ expected 5% to 7% annual capacity growth will be in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2014, says chief financial officer Mark Powers.

Capacity into the region will increase by about 17% with capacity at the New York-based carrier’s main gateway to the region, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport, increasing by about 15% in 2014, he says during an earnings call on 29 January.

JetBlue already flies 30% of its total available seat miles (ASMs) into Latin America and the Caribbean, says Powers.

The airline plans to launch flights between New York JFK and Port of Spain on 24 February; Fort Lauderdale and Montego Bay, Port of Spain and Punta Cana on 1 May; and Newark and Santiago, Dominican Republic, on 1 May.

JetBlue will continue to increase departures from Fort Lauderdale to about 75 per day by the beginning of 2015, says president Robin Hayes during the call. This will be split about two-thirds international and one-third domestic, he says.

The carrier operates about 60 per day from Fort Lauderdale currently and plans to have about 100 flights per day there by 2017. It will also move into a new 14-gate terminal from its current 10-gate facility over the period.

“Clearly we still have a number of markets that we’re looking at,” says Hayes on where JetBlue may fly to next in Latin America. “There are still plenty of markets we don’t serve today that we have access to.”

Capacity will remain flat across the rest of JetBlue’s system in 2014, says Powers.

The capacity guidance will not change if JetBlue succeeds at winning slots at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport, says Hayes. Growth at the close-in Washington airport would come from elsewhere in the system, he adds.

He declines to comment on where JetBlue might fly if it succeeds in the auction for 44 slot pairs that run by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and American Airlines.

The carrier unsuccessfully sought a slot pair at Washington National for new service to Jacksonville in 2013. Spirit Airlines returned the pair to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) in September 2012.

JetBlue could buy up to 36 slot pairs, or three of the four available bundles, in the auction. The pairs are split 14 in both bundles A and B, 12 in bundle C and four in bundle D.

An airline can win up to two of bundles A, B and C, as well as D. It cannot win all three of the large bundles.

JetBlue will increase capacity at its Boston Logan International base “above the system average”, says Hayes. It already plans to add new nonstops to Savannah on 13 February and Detroit on 10 March.

The carrier will take delivery of nine Airbus A321s in 2014, says Powers. All of the aircraft will be configured with its premium Mint product, which will debut on the New York JFK-Los Angeles route in June.

JetBlue anticipates $935 million in capital expenditures with the majority related to aircraft deliveries in 2014.