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JetBlue reviewing expansion

15 June 2007

The new day-to-day leadership at JetBlue Airways Corp. is beginning to make itself felt, revealing to analysts that the low-cost carrier intends to take a new and a hard look at its expansion plans over the next two months in an effort to make a turnaround.

At a Merrill Lynch conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, JetBlue’s new chief executive, David Barger, told analysts that the Forest Hills-based carrier will evaluate the need for the airplanes it has already ordered and the 16 new markets it added last year. The company is aiming to create the best match it can between expansion and profitability, he said.

JetBlue posted a $22 million loss in the first quarter. The airline is expected next week to disclose preliminary information about its second quarter financial results.

Like all other airlines, JetBlue has been grappling with higher fuel costs. But JetBlue also is facing increased competition from legacy carriers who have shaped up their balance sheets and otherwise trimmed costs. Delta Air Lines, for example, a major JetBlue competitor on the heavily traveled East Coast routes, has recently emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and is adding flights at Kennedy, JetBlue’s home base.

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