Jetblue Swings To Loss On Higher Expenses

April 28, 2010

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JetBlue Airways swung to an unexpected loss in the first quarter, but believes it has taken the right steps to position itself for new growth and a return to profitability.

New York-based JetBlue said winter storms cut revenue by USD$15 million and its transition to a new customer service and reservation system increased expenses by a similar amount.

Higher fuel costs also eroded the carrier's bottom line, a volatile scenario that affected all major airlines in the January-to-March period.

JetBlue reported a net loss of USD$1 million, compared with net income of USD$12 million for the year-ago period.

Higher fares helped push revenue to USD$870 million. Traffic was up and planes flew more than three-quarters full on average.

The second-quarter forecast calls for improving unit revenue, an increase in capacity and higher costs, excluding fuel.

JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger said the company was disappointed in its performance but was encouraged by recent revenue trends bolstered by an improving economy.

The airline also expects benefits from its new customer service system, a growing presence in Boston, and its position as the largest domestic carrier at New York's John F Kennedy Airport.

"We are confident that we are taking the right steps to return to sustained profitability," Barger said in a statement.

JetBlue ended the quarter with USD$1.1 billion in unrestricted cash and short-term investments.

(Reuters)