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JetBlue launches fleet review with E190 cost concerns

JetBlue Airways has launched a major review of its fleet, as the carrier’s chief executive expresses dissatisfaction over its fleet of Embraer 190s.

The New York-based airline’s new chief financial officer Steve Priest has been tasked to review the airline’s current fleet and future orders, says chief executive Robin Hayes at the JP Morgan aviation, transportation and industrials conference today.

JetBlue operates 169 Airbus A320 family aircraft and 60 E190s.

“The stage length of the E190 is 40% shorter but the E190 is a high CASM airplane,” says Hayes. “We look at the E190 issue not as a CASM issue, but a return issue.”

It is not the first time that JetBlue’s executives have made less than flattering remarks about the E190, which it launched into service in 2005.

The carrier had previously lamented the costs associated with being the type’s launch customer, with Hayes saying of the experience: “It was tricky.”

JetBlue has another 24 E190s on order, after deferrals it made back in 2013. Deliveries are set to resume in 2020, according to JetBlue’s latest fleet plan. The airline has so far remained silent on whether it could convert its remaining E190 orders to the re-engined E190-E2, which is scheduled to enter into service in 2018.

An Embraer spokesperson did not immediately comment on JetBlue’s remarks.

The airline had previously expressed interest in the Bombardier CSeries, but Hayes told FlightGlobal in June 2016 that a new order for 100-seater aircraft is not high on the carrier’s list of immediate priorities.

He also alluded to JetBlue’s difficulties with the E190, saying then: “To that degree, the more airlines that order an airplane, the more aftermarket support you will see.”

JetBlue’s fleet plan review comes as the airline embarks on a plan to reduce structural costs by $250 to $300 million by 2020.

Separately, the carrier continues to evaluate the Airbus A321LR, which will allow it to launch transatlantic service to Europe. JetBlue has until the end of this year to decide if it wants to switch orders for 15 A321neos to the long-range jet, which Airbus will offer from 2019.

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