July 25, 2012

CT flights helped lift JetBlue’s 2Q net

JetBlue Airways Corp. said Wednesday that courting more business travelers and adding more routes, including from Bradley International Airport and Boston, drove its record second-quarter profit, more than double what it was a year ago, The Associated Press reports.

The New York airline earned $52 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $25 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 11 percent to $1.28 billion. The results were in line with what analysts expected.

In January, JetBlue, which launched Bradley service to Florida in November 2010, began nonstop flights from Windsor Locks to San Juan, Puerto.

"Our focused growth strategy in Boston and the Caribbean and Latin America is clearly paying off as we generated record revenues and improved operating margins," CEO Dave Barger said in a statement. JetBlue plans to increase its flying capacity by 7 to 9 percent in the third quarter, and by 6.5 to 8.5 percent for the full year.

The company also said it attracted more business travelers, who tend to pay more. Those fliers often buy tickets closer to a flight date, when fares are more expensive. Many pay up for more comfortable seats and other perks. JetBlue has seats with more legroom for an extra charge. It doesn't have first or business class.

JetBlue also recently said it will add an elite tier to its frequent flier program with perks like speedier security lines and a free second checked bag. That's another way JetBlue is competing for the well-heeled traveler against bigger competitors, which have had multi-level frequent flier programs for years.

Fuel costs rose about 3 percent in the quarter. JetBlue lost about $1 million in fuel hedges when the price of fuel fell farther than its locked-in price.

Maintenance costs rose as well, soaring 59 percent. All of JetBlue's planes were new when it started flying in 2000, and many of them were due for extensive maintenance checks. Around its time of rapid growth mid-decade, JetBlue was taking delivery of a new plane about every 10 days.

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