JetBlue Plans Flights to 10 More Cities

JetBlue Airways Corp. plans to add flights to 10 more cities this year as the low-cost carrier begins to put its new, short-to-medium range Brazilian-built Embraer 190 aircraft into service in markets now served by regional airlines such as American Eagle and Delta Connection.

The Forest Hills-based airline has so far announced only two of the 10 destinations. It will begin service to Richmond, Va., March 31. Service to Austin, Texas, began Jan. 19. JetBlue is to announce the other destinations later this year.

"We're taking delivery of a new aircraft every 10 days this year," Dervin said. JetBlue has firm orders to buy 100 Embraer airplanes and options to purchase another 100.

David Neeleman, JetBlue's founder and chairman, told an audience at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business about the new routes in a speech Friday. JetBlue confirmed the plans yesterday.

JetBlue will be going head-to-head against the Delta Connection planes in the JFK-to-Austin route. The Embraer airplanes seat 100 passengers and have a range of about 2,000 miles, which makes them highly desirable for use in smaller markets. American Eagle and Delta Connection utilize several types of planes for smaller markets.

One advantage JetBlue will have over the others is that all of its Embraers seat 100, while some of the jets used by the other carriers seat only 50. JetBlue, therefore, can take in more revenue per flight. On the other hand, analysts say, the Embraers, although highly fuel-efficient, will use more fuel than 50-seat airplanes. Airlines have been paying a record $ 1.90 per gallon for fuel. Fuel prices have tipped some carriers into bankruptcy and cut earnings at others.

Even JetBlue, which has been one of the nation's most profitable airlines, has said it expects to post a quarterly loss -- its first ever -- when it releases fourth-quarter and year-end earnings on Feb. 1. But JetBlue's losses are expected to be short-lived. Stefan Lumiere, who follows the airline industry for the investment firm Oscar Gruss & Son in Manhattan, said he expects JetBlue to be "slightly profitable or flat" in the first quarter of this year.

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