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IATA: JetBlue looks to widebody operations from 2015

As JetBlue Airways focuses on bringing Airbus A321 narrowbodies into its fleet in the near term, it is also in the early stages of studying the acquisition of larger-gauge aircraft to serve longer-haul markets, chief executive Dave Barger tells Airline Business Daily at the IATA annual meeting in Beijing.

"We are looking at larger aircraft, especially out of New York and especially Latin America. There is already plenty of service to Asia and Europe," says Barger.

Types such as the Airbus A350 and Boeing's 787 are under consideration. The timeframe is "2015 and beyond", he says.

The carrier will not rush into widebody operations, says Barger. "You have to earn the right to grow. It would be a big change of business for a company like us."

However, JetBlue's position as the largest carrier at New York's JFK airport means it has the position to exploit an expansion into longer-haul services.

JetBlue has been expanding its international operations significantly in recent years, with about 28% of its capacity devoted to Caribbean and Latin services by the end of the year, says Barger. "Latin America has been a terrific market for JetBlue and larger airplanes would earn their way into the network."

In the past three years, JetBlue has been carefully building up a series of 18 interline agreements and three codeshare deals with mainly overseas carriers as it develops international connections.

This strategy led JetBlue to join IATA in 2010 and Barger has now also joined the association's board of governors. "IATA is a nice framework to meet people and build relationships - it's efficient," says Barger.

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