JetBlue Airways is mulling options for managing its fleet growth, including selling aircraft, returning leased aircraft and postponing deliveries, after announcing plans to increase capacity between 6% and 9% for the full year compared to the 11%-13% range advised for 2007.
Given “an uncertain economic environment and record high fuel prices”, JetBlue plans to “grow more conservatively in 2008”, says CEO Dave Barger.
“Assuming market conditions remain favorable, we expect to take advantage of continued strength in the worldwide aircraft market to manage our fleet growth, and we currently plan to increase capacity between 6% and 9% for the full year.”
JetBlue is scheduled to take delivery of 12 Airbus A320s and seven Embraer E-190s in 2008. Those figures “could change” confirms a JetBlue spokesman, noting that the carrier believes “current demand for aircraft worldwide gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of aircraft sales, returning of leased aircraft and deferring deliveries”.
During the third quarter of 2007, New York JFK-hubbed JetBlue kept growth in check, selling one A320 and returning one to a lessor. It closed the sale of two more A320s in the fourth quarter. After taking delivery of three A320s and one more E-190, the carrier’s fleet comprised of 104 A320s and 30 E-190s at year-end.
Apart from a previously-announced initiative to sell a further two A320s in the second quarter of 2008, however, JetBlue does not have “any specific plans at this point” for the year, says the spokesman.
Further details may become available on January 29, when JetBule management is scheduled to discuss earnings for the fourth quarter and full year 2007. At that time, management will also confirm the actual available seat mile (ASM) growth figure for 2007, says the spokesman, noting that the airline previously predicated a range of 11% to 13%.
Source: flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news