JetBlue Announces First Quarter Results

NEW YORK, April 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- JetBlue Airways Corporation (Nasdaq: JBLU) today reported its results for the first quarter 2010: -- Operating income for the quarter was $42 million, resulting in a 4.8% operating...

NEW YORK, April 28 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- JetBlue Airways Corporation (Nasdaq: JBLU) today reported its results for the first quarter 2010:

"While we are disappointed to report a loss for the quarter, we are confident that we are taking the right steps to return to sustained profitability," said Dave Barger, JetBlue's CEO. "During the quarter, we successfully implemented a new customer service and reservations system - a significant accomplishment given the complexity of such a transition - reflecting meticulous preparation and execution by our outstanding crewmembers. We believe this new system, along with our growing presence in Boston and our unique position as the largest domestic carrier at JFK Airport, allows us to continue to grow and develop revenue streams in the future."

Operational Performance

JetBlue reported record first quarter revenues of $870 million despite severe winter storms in the Northeast, which reduced revenue by an estimated $15 million. Revenue passenger miles for the first quarter increased 7.1% to 6.5 billion on a 6.1% increase in capacity, resulting in a first quarter load factor of 76.8%, an increase of 0.8 points year over year.

Yield per passenger mile in the first quarter was 12.13 cents, up 3.8% compared to the first quarter of 2009. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) for the first quarter 2010 increased 4.9% year over year to 9.32 cents and operating revenue per available seat mile (RASM) increased 3.4% year-over-year to 10.32 cents.

Operating expenses for the quarter increased 15.1%, or $108 million, over the prior year period, including approximately $15 million in one-time expenses related to the transition to Sabre, JetBlue's new customer service and reservations system. JetBlue's operating expense per available seat mile (CASM) for the first quarter increased 8.5% year-over-year to 9.83 cents. Excluding fuel, CASM increased 8.9% to 6.81 cents. These non-fuel unit costs were negatively impacted by storm related flight cancellations that occurred in February and March.

Fuel Expense and Hedging

While fuel prices increased during the quarter, JetBlue continued to hedge fuel to help manage price volatility. Specifically, JetBlue hedged approximately 65% of its fuel consumption during the first quarter, resulting in a realized fuel price of $2.19 per gallon, a 7.5% increase over first quarter 2009 realized fuel price of $2.03. JetBlue recorded $2 million in gains on fuel hedges that settled during the first quarter.

JetBlue has hedged approximately 42% of its second quarter projected fuel requirements and 38% of its remaining 2010 projected fuel requirements with a combination of crude call options, jet fuel swaps and heating oil collars. JetBlue expects an average price per gallon of fuel, including the impact of hedges and fuel taxes, of $2.43 in the second quarter and $2.44 for the full year 2010.

Balance Sheet Update

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

"We continue to maintain one of the best liquidity positions in the U.S. airline industry relative to our size," said Ed Barnes, JetBlue's CFO. "We believe our strong liquidity position affords us the flexibility to pursue opportunities to profitably expand our footprint in key markets, such as Boston and Washington's Reagan National Airport, and to continue to fund a broad array of fuel hedging options."

Second Quarter and Full Year Outlook

"We are encouraged by recent revenue trends as the economic environment appears to be improving and we derive additional revenue benefits from our new customer service system," said Barnes.

For the second quarter of 2010, PRASM and RASM are expected to increase between six and nine percent year over year. CASM is expected to increase between 12 and 14 percent over the year-ago period. Excluding fuel, CASM in the second quarter is expected to increase between nine and 11 percent year over year.

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