Paul Lewis/ORLANDO

JetBlue Airways has topped up its Airbus A320 order by converting seven more options. The start-up carrier aims to broaden services out of its New York Kennedy hub and beyond.


The new deal increases JetBlue's A320 orderbook to 40 aircraft, including six being leased from International Lease Finance and two from Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise. JetBlue has three International Aero Engines V2500-powered aircraft in service and another seven due for delivery before the end of the year.

"We needed to firm up some more aircraft now to make sure we secured enough delivery positions . With every option we firm up, a purchase right is converted to an option," says JetBlue chief executive David Neeleman.

The new order will accelerate JetBlue's A320 deliveries from nine to 10 aircraft next year, and from eight to 10 in 2002 with the rest coming in 2003. The deal leaves the carrier with 43 outstanding options and purchase rights for delivery in 2004 and beyond.

JetBlue operates three north-south daily routes from Kennedy to Buffalo, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa and will add Orlando in June. The airline also plans to launch east-west transcontinental night services and with its current allocated limit of 75 daily slots at Kennedy, is looking for new hubs.

"I'm sure we'll go outside New York after the first three years. We have three or four cities we're looking at as additional hubs. We'll make a decision in 2001-02," says Neeleman, who says the focus will still be on the US East Coast.

JetBlue says it will be operating profitably by the second half of the year, with a full profit in 2001.

Source: Flight International