JetBlue Airways expects to have an average of 11 Airbus narrowbody aircraft grounded during 2024 due to inspections of the jets’ Pratt & Whitney (P&W) PW1100G geared turbofan (GTF) engines.

The New York-based carrier’s chief financial officer Ursula Hurley, speaking at an investor conference on 22 February, said that at the peak, the company will have 12-15 A320neo-family aircraft sitting idle due to the defective-disc problem identified by P&W last summer. The engine issues will cut into the company’s 2024 growth plans and are not expected to improve soon.

JetBlue Airways Airbus A320

Source: JetBlue Airways

JetBlue expects to have an average of 11 A320neo-family aircraft grounded at any time through 2024, chief financial officer Ursula Hurley says

“One of the biggest challenges [this year] is having a significant amount of aircraft on the ground,” Hurley says. The groundings will represent “close to 3.5 points of capacity, which is one of the main reasons that JetBlue is not growing this year”.

The inspections are now expected to take the aircraft out of service for ”360 to 365 days” each, Hurley adds.

In August, P&W disclosed a powered-metal problem that can lead disks in the engines to fail. At the time, the manufacturer said each engine will likely be in the shop for 250-300 days.

Hurley also says that since the carrier introduced GTF engines it has been having “reliability challenges”, even prior to last year’s recall, and those will likely continue into next year.

In 2025, “JetBlue will continue to be challenged with the GTF,” Hurley adds. “I don’t necessarily believe that the situation will improve.”

In the meantime, the company is attempting to fill anticipated capacity gaps by keeping older aircraft flying longer than previously planned.

“We had about 30 A320 aircraft that were set to retire over the next four to five years, and we will keep them in the fleet longer,” Hurley says, calling that strategy “a capital-light way to add capacity into the system… to backfill some of the GTF capacity that we lost”.

“We do believe we need to grow. There’s only so much you can cut.”

JetBlue has 211 A320-family aircraft in service, including 18 PW1100G-powered A321neos, and six A321neos in storage, according to Cirium fleets data.

P&W parent RTX has said that it expects an average of 350 GTF-powered A320neo-family jets will be grounded through 2026, with a peak of 600 to 650 aircraft grounded in the first half of 2024.