JetBlue to use LiveTV sale funds to pre-pay debt

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JetBlue Airways will use a majority of proceeds from the sale of its LiveTV unit to pre-pay debt this year.

The airline announced in March 2014 that it would sell LiveTV to Thales Group for $400 million in a deal that it hopes to close in mid-2014.

"We will use the sale to pre-pay $200-$300 million in debt in 2014," says the airline's chief financial officer Mark Powers in an earnings call today.

Powers says that after paying banker's fees and other charges, the carrier expects net proceeds "north of $300 million".

Asked why the deal will take until mid-2014 to close, Powers says the timeline is driven by necessary government approvals. "I couldn't be more eager to get this thing closed... JetBlue and Thales are eager and ready to go," he says.

The carrier says today it is on track to meeting a return in invested capital goal of 7% for 2014, and that this forecast does not take into account the sale of LiveTV.

The divestiture will help lower the airline's unit costs and reduce its capital expenditures, says JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger.