Tag Archives: JetBlue Airways

JetBlue advises its employees on the impact of coronavirus

JetBlue Airways has issued the following message to its 23,000 crew members:

Dear Crewmembers –

As the coronavirus crisis deepens, so too does its impact on our business. If anyone tells you that they’ve seen anything like this before – don’t believe them. We’ve shared with you in the past weeks the unprecedented decline in demand for travel, and the situation continues to deteriorate. The numbers are staggering:

  • Just 7,000 Customers are likely to fly us each day in April and possibly May, compared to the 120,000 we would typically expect.
  • Last year on a typical day in April, we took in about $22 million from bookings and ancillary fees. This is now just $1 million per day (and another $2 million per day is being issued in cash refunds, pushing us into negative territory). Additionally, we are still issuing $11 million per day of travel bank credits for canceled bookings.
  • We are spending far more on running the airline than we are making in revenue and, as a result, we are burning through over $10 million of our savings each day. Despite our position of financial strength, this is simply not sustainable. We are leaving no stone unturned, cutting pay for officers (VPs and above), introducing voluntary time off programs, reducing capacity, re-negotiating Business Partners agreements, and stopping or pausing 75% of our major infrastructure, technology and real estate projects.

We are by no means alone in the pressures we are facing; it is clear that without government assistance, or mass furloughing and restructuring, that many of the world’s airlines could fail.

Taking action by reducing our network, parking our fleet

Preserving cash is our top priority and we’ve had to make decisions we never dreamed we’d make. We must continue to make sacrifices where needed so that we can emerge from this unprecedented challenge.

  • 70% April schedule reduction: We’ve reduced our April schedule by at least 70%.
  • Parking over 100 aircraft: Just a few weeks ago, we couldn’t get new aircraft fast enough to hit our growth plans. Now, we are taking steps to sit down the aircraft we have. This month, we will park over 100 in the Arizonadesert and at BlueCities around the country.

Payroll support for Crewmembers

Last Friday I shared some very good news about the CARES Act, which sets aside $25 billion in payroll support for airline employees through Sept. 30, 2020. In the week since the law was signed, our nation’s leaders have moved with incredible speed to start the process of getting that money into the hands of Crewmembers. I want to again thank President Trump, his administration, and Congress – especially our very own Senator Schumer – for their bipartisan support.

Today we submitted our application for payroll support funds to the Treasury department and we now enter negotiations with the U.S. Government. I hope things can move quickly, and we are available this weekend so we can conclude an agreement next week, as time is of the essence. For reasons I am sure you understand we won’t be commenting while we are in these discussions. We may not get enough to cover pay and benefits at the level you see when we are flying at full capacity. Also, as a growth carrier, we have a disadvantage as the funds are based on last year’s payroll costs. With fewer hours for everyone to work and far fewer flights, total pay is likely to go down for both salary and hourly Crewmembers. The good news is this law keeps paychecks coming and it buys us time. Securing jobs, even at reduced total pay, is my priority right now.

Every dollar of the payroll assistance funds will be passed to Crewmembers, with the exception of JetBlue Officers who will not be funded by the Government and the leadership team have all taken significant pay cuts. We are in this together. The government is providing these funds as recognition to us to make sure we are in position to serve the flying public, support the country, and kickstart the economy again when the crisis is over.

Even if we get the payroll support, we still need to raise additional money to pay our other operating expenses. We will be talking to the government and other lenders in the coming weeks. We have thoughtfully managed our finances over the past 10 years, and thankfully we now own many aircraft and other assets we can borrow money against.

One requirement of accepting payroll support is that we continue to provide a reasonable level of service across our domestic network. With dramatically fewer Customers, we have to take a hard look at our schedule to meet those requirements while also pulling down further flying. We expect more clarity on this from the Department of Transportation soon.

Inspiring Humanity and looking ahead

I take great pride in knowing that we can help others even when we need a little help ourselves. Customers choosing to fly during this difficult time are, for the most part, doing so because they need to, not because they want to. With our mission to Inspire Humanity in mind, we are transporting medical professionals and supplies to the places where they are needed, and helping get students home.

While every day right now feels endless, this will not last forever. We are already thinking about what the world will look like when we come out of this. Just like after 9/11, some things will go back to normal and others will change for good and we need to prepare for that. With our incredible team, disruptive brand, low fares, and low-cost structure, I think JetBlue can do some great things in this new reality.

I’d like to end this update on a personal note. So many of you have reached out to me and I feel terrible I have not been able to personally get back to everyone like I normally do. I want you to know that I’ve read your comments and suggestions and have shared the themes with the right leaders. I know it is a scary time. The multiple stresses of work, finances, and personal health can take a toll. Take care of each other, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your leader if you need support. Thanks for all you’re doing. We will get through this.

Best wishes,

Robin Hayes
Chief Executive Officer

JetBlue’s message to its employees

JetBlue Airways today issued the following message to its 23,000 crew members.

Dear Crewmembers,

It has been a very tough few weeks. We are so proud to see once again how the JetBlue culture brings us together during times of crisis. Thank you for continuing to serve our Customers and deliver the JetBlue experience, particularly when your own lives are being disrupted in so many ways.

With safety our #1 value, we continue to take the measures necessary to protect your health. But as it relates to our business, we are not going to sugarcoat it. Demand continues to worsen, and the writing is on the wall that travel will not bounce back quickly.

We’d like to give you some color on what we are seeing. Last year on a typical day in March we took in about $22 million from bookings and ancillary fees. Throughout this March, our sales have fallen sharply and in the last several days we have taken in an average of less than $4 million per day while also issuing over $20 million per day of credits to Customers for canceled bookings. This is a stunning shift, which is being driven by fewer new bookings, much lower fares, and a Customer cancel rate more than 10 times the norm. If you do the math, $4 millionper day does not come anywhere close to covering our daily expenses. It is hard to predict how long these conditions will last and how much more challenging the environment may become.

We are not alone. Virtually every major carrier is taking actions that were almost unthinkable a few weeks ago, making huge schedule reductions and parking significant portions of their fleets.

Even though we entered this from a position of strength with a strong balance sheet and cash in the bank, because of the dramatic fall-off in bookings, we need to reduce our spending immediately so that we can continue to fund JetBlue’s operations and ensure your jobs are protected. We have already announced an initial capacity reduction, pay cuts for our officers (VPs and above), voluntary time off programs, re-negotiated Business Partners agreements, and other spending reductions.

We’ve taken swift and decisive actions to protect you, but we must do more and do so quickly to weather this storm.

Reducing our flying to reflect demand
We are reducing our capacity in the coming months, with a reduction of at least 40% in April and May. We also expect substantial cuts in June and July, and given the unpredictability of this event, we will ground some of our aircraft. We know this is not an easy move – it will impact hours for many frontline Crewmembers, but it is also essential that we reduce capacity in the face of dramatically falling demand.

We will be notifying Customers of their specific cancellations in a phased approach so that we do not overwhelm Customer Support as they continue to receive exponentially more calls than they ever have before.

Reviewing our fleet plan
One of our most substantial capital expenses is the purchase of new airplanes. In collaboration with Airbus, we are looking at our order book for opportunities to slow deliveries and reduce aircraft pre-delivery payments (PDPs). We will also defer the four previously used airplanes that we announced earlier this year.

Cutting our capital and operational spending
We will reduce spending wherever we can to preserve our cash, and both of us will be taking a 50% pay reduction during this crisis.

We entered the year with a list of major initiatives to invest in our infrastructure, technology and real estate. As of today, we have paused or stopped more than 75% of these projects and will continue to stand down work wherever we can.

Increasing our cash reserves
The dramatic loss of revenue in recent days means we will have to start dipping into our cash savings. Although we came into this with about $1.2 billion, our expenses total millions of dollars each day. The good news is we have secured a new liquidity facility – an extra credit line – which allowed us to borrow $1 billion. This is not free money – it’s a band-aid solution that holds us over and we have to pay it back with interest. Even with these cash reserves we, like the rest of the industry, will need significant government support to help us through these losses.

Calling for government intervention
The governmental warnings and actions taken to manage this health crisis have hit both domestic and international travel hard. We have been coordinating with Airlines for America (A4A) and other U.S. airlines to ensure government leaders understand the threat to our global economy if air travel is not supported. When this pandemic passes – and it will – air travel will play a major role in getting life back to normal and supporting economic recovery. We are going to need significant government help to do that. This is not a position we’d like to be in, but government assistance will help us protect our 23,000 Crewmembers who are our most important priority as we navigate these turbulent times.

From the beginning we have faced many challenges and, against all odds, we have thrived through some incredibly difficult events. Now we are faced with what is by far the biggest challenge our company and our industry has ever seen. While we know this is an incredibly difficult time for all of you as you work to juggle your own concerns around coronavirus, we have come through other challenges in our 20 year history and we can – and will – come through this together.

The next few months won’t be easy, but please know that all the steps we’re taking today are focused on protecting the health and safety of our Crewmembers and Customers and ensuring JetBlue remains a great place for you to work well into the future.

Regards,

Robin Hayes
Chief Executive Officer

Joanna Geraghty
President & COO

JetBlue announces its coronavirus actions

JetBlue Airways has made this announcement:

As the coronavirus situation evolves, the safety of our crewmembers and customers is paramount. We’re working hard to do everything we can to be prepared and address your concerns.

We are:

  • Increasing the rigor of cleaning and sanitizing procedures on our aircraft.
  • Disinfecting common surfaces inside our airport terminals more frequently.
  • Making hand sanitizer available in our airports and disinfecting wipes available on board, upon request.
  • Temporarily suspending onboard hot towel service.

We have partnered with federal agencies and hired our own medical expert to ensure we implement best practices from U.S. and other global health authorities. This includes promoting handwashing and healthy hygiene practices among our community of crewmembers and customers.

We also want to ensure you can book new travel with confidence. As such, we’re extending our temporary policy of no change or cancellation fees. This applies to bookings made 3/6-3/31 for travel through 9/8/20 across all fares (Blue, Blue Basic, Blue Plus, Blue Extra and Mint) and all JetBlue destinations. If you need to cancel your travel plans, we’ll credit the full amount as a JetBlue travel credit that’s valid for one year. Fare differences may apply for changes.

What else is JetBlue doing?

We know the coronavirus situation is evolving and we are working hard to make sure we’re prepared.  This includes:

  • Stepping up cleaning and sanitizing procedures onboard our aircraft.
  • Promoting handwashing and healthy hygiene practices among our crewmembers.
  • Disinfecting common surfaces more frequently inside our airport terminals.
  • Adding additional disinfecting wipes to provide to customers onboard.
  • Taking measures aligned with the recommendations of global health authorities.
  • Temporarily suspending hot towel service.
  • Activating a special response team to monitor the situation in real time.

JetBlue Airways aircraft photo gallery:

JetBlue is the first U.S. airline to waive change and cancel fees due to coronavirus concerns

JetBlue Airways has announced it will suspend change and cancel fees for new flight bookings starting tomorrow, February 27, through March 11, 2020, for travel completed by June 1, 2020*. The policy is designed to give customers confidence that they will not be charged any JetBlue fees for changes or cancellations later given evolving coronavirus concerns. The move will apply to all fares offered by JetBlue, including Blue Basic, which generally does not allow for any changes or cancellations. Flights booked through JetBlue Vacations will also be allowed changes or cancellations with no fees.

“While authorities have not issued any travel restrictions to the locations we fly, we want to give our customers some peace of mind that we are ready to support them should the situation change,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “Given our mission is to inspire humanity, we felt this suspension was an important way to live up to our crewmember and customer expectations during this uncertain time. We are committed to the health and safety of both our crewmembers and customers, and we are working directly with health and security officials as well as industry leaders for updates and best practices.”

Customers who book in the next two weeks will receive a full travel credit should they need to cancel their trip, and customers who wish to change their plans can apply the full amount from their original booking to a different itinerary, although fare differences may apply. Customers who have bought a package through JetBlue Vacations can contact JetBlue to understand the cancel and change policies for rental cars, hotels, and other travel products that are part of their package.

JetBlue is taking measures aligned with the recommendations of global health authorities and has activated its pandemic response team, which is monitoring the situation in real time and working with key stakeholders to determine any further action. The airline is also promoting handwashing and healthy hygiene practices among its crewmembers and continuing to ensure compliance with aircraft cleaning procedures.

JetBlue Airways aircraft photo gallery:

JetBlue celebrates its 20th birthday

JetBlue Airways today marked its 20th birthday, commemorating its first revenue flight between New York and Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood on February 11, 2000.

Twenty years, 470 million customers, and 102 million bags of Terra Blue chips later, JetBlue continues to inspire humanity by combining great service with low fares for customers.

Over two decades, JetBlue established itself as a leader in both value and comfort. With an initial pledge to bring humanity back to air travel, today JetBlue is bringing that same human touch and innovative spirit across the travel industry through the airline and its two subsidiaries – JetBlue Travel Products and JetBlue Technology Ventures. JetBlue has maintained its onboard advantage, with the most legroom in coach (a), complimentary high-speed Fly-Fi broadband on every aircraft (b), free seatback entertainment at every seat, free snacks and soft drinks, and hospitality-trained crewmembers offering award-winning service.

‘20 Years Just Flew By’ Sale & Celebrations

JetBlue is planning a year-long celebration with its crewmembers and customers as it embarks on its third decade.

The airline is kicking off its “20 Years Just Flew By” fare sale with seats available now starting as low as $20 one-way in select markets (c). Visit jetblue.com to check availability and book.

Customers traveling on JetBlue flight #1 today from New York-JFK to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) were treated to breakfast treats and surprise gate-side giveaways at JetBlue’s home at Terminal 5 at JFK. JetBlue’s very first revenue flight operated the New York to Florida route as flight #1 on February 11, 2000.

This morning, Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, joined founding JetBlue crewmembers to mark the airline’s milestone by ringing the opening bell at Nasdaq in Times Square. JetBlue is proud to be New York’s Hometown Airline and remains committed to New York City and the entire Empire State.

Saving Customers $12 Billion … And Counting

With its everyday low fares and market-stimulating growth, JetBlue estimates it has saved customers over $12 billion that would otherwise have gone to the four large airlines that hold vast pricing power in the airports they dominate.

“JetBlue’s role in the industry is more important than ever,” Hayes said. “As the large airlines have consolidated and grown more powerful, and the ultra-low-cost carriers ushered in the no-frills flying, customers are turning to JetBlue for our high-quality service and affordable fares – definitely a unique combination in the industry today.”

Its low fares have stimulated demand in underutilized airports from New York to Boston to Fort Lauderdale to Long Beach and across the Caribbean. JetBlue launched operations at John F. Kennedy International Airport – which in 2000 served just 32 million travelers and was ripe for growth. By 2018, more than 61 million travelers passed through JFK thanks to JetBlue and the market stimulation of “the JetBlue effect.”

With a long list of industry-shaping innovations and firsts, JetBlue’s remarkable success and stamp on the travel landscape cannot be ignored:

  • From serving routes between the northeast and Florida with a handful of aircraft in 2000, JetBlue has become a globally loved brand with service to nearly 100 destinations across almost 25 countries across the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America with plans to expand to Europe in 2021.
  • From its sole focus on New York, JetBlue has spread its geographic footprint and is now a leading carrier in six focus cities: Boston; Los Angeles/Long Beach; New York; Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • With initial operations at JFK’s Terminal 6, JetBlue built and relocated to the new Terminal 5 in 2008, recognized by Frommer’s as one of the world’s most beautiful airport terminals. Since its opening, T5 has offered an amazing ground experience to complement JetBlue’s award-winning onboard experience.
  • In 2014, JetBlue took a step forward from its single cabin roots, introducing its Mint premium experience to transcontinental travel, completely disrupting a category for travel that had been stagnant for years.
  • JetBlue was the first U.S. airline to introduce a Customer Bill of Rights as a commitment to take care of customers with transparent and consistent compensation when things do not go as planned.
  • JetBlue launched the industry’s most customer-friendly loyalty program – TrueBlue – which rewards all customers, regardless of their travel frequency. With TrueBlue, there are no blackout dates with all seats available for redemption, and points never expire.
  • JetBlue’s founders believed that people would be the key to success, and JetBlue has invested in its people with an unmatched orientation and training campus, JetBlue University, in Orlando.
  • With its innovative JetBlue Scholars program, crewmembers have earned a total of 250 college degrees since launching in 2016. JetBlue is now expanding the successful program to include master’s degrees.
  • With a mission to inspire humanity, supporting its communities has been a priority for JetBlue and its crewmembers. In 2019, JetBlue Crewmembers reached an incredible milestone, volunteering one million hours of service over the past eight years since the airline started tracking volunteer hours.
  • JetBlue was the first major U.S. airline to announce that it will offset carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from jet fuel for all domestic flights beginning in July 2020. JetBlue also announced plans to start flying with sustainable aviation fuel in mid-2020 on flights from San Francisco International Airport.
  • JetBlue launched the industry-leading Gateway Select program, the first of its kind competency-based pilot training program, giving participants the opportunity to become JetBlue pilots after completing a rigorous four-year training program that incorporates classroom learning, extensive real-world flying experience and instruction in full-flight simulators. The highly selective program is designed specifically for candidates without previous aviation training who demonstrate the most desired qualities in a pilot.
  • With JetBlue Technology Ventures, JetBlue was the first to launch a corporate venture capital subsidiary in Silicon Valley backed by a U.S. airline. JetBlue Technology Ventures invests in, incubates and partners with early stage startups at the intersection of technology, travel and hospitality, and several start-ups identified have already been incorporated in JetBlue’s operation.
  • JetBlue was the first airline to launch a foundation – the JetBlue Foundation – focused solely on supporting aviation and STEM education.

Beyond the 20th in 2020

JetBlue’s 20th birthday comes as it sets itself up for the next 20 years. With investments in the future of travel through its two subsidiaries – JetBlue Travel Products and JetBlue Technology Ventures – the company is bringing innovative products and services to the market inspired by the same mission that made the airline a beloved brand. Perhaps best known for bringing live TV to the skies in 2000, the airline also continues to raise the bar with a refresh of its fleet, new technology, and customer-friendly offerings that make its onboard experience the best of any U.S. airline:

  • This month JetBlue takes delivery of its seventh Airbus A321neo aircraft, the newest aircraft type to join the fleet. The state-of-the-art aircraft features increased fuel efficiency, extended range and the very best in customer comfort.
  • Later this year, another new aircraft type will join the JetBlue fleet with delivery of its first Airbus A220-300. The A220’s spacious and comfortable cabin makes it the perfect fit for JetBlue as a replacement for the Embraer 190. The A220’s range and seating capacity will add flexibility to JetBlue’s network and open the door to new markets and routes.
  • Later this year JetBlue will also announce details regarding transatlantic service with flights to London set to launch in 2021. Growth into Europe is the next natural step in JetBlue’s focus city strategy, with London being the largest destination not served by JetBlue from both New York and Boston. As part of its transatlantic plans, JetBlue is developing a reimagined version of its Mint experience.
  • With the restyling of the Airbus A320 – the backbone of JetBlue’s fleet – JetBlue is introducing a new era of comfort and connectivity to travelers, bringing to the skies the widest seats available for this aircraft.

In 2000, its DIRECTV® offering had 24 channels and a five-inch screen. Today, aircraft with the future JetBlue experience offer customers 100+ channels of live television and hundreds of free movies and shows, larger high-definition touch-screen displays, a personalized experience, expanded coverage of free Fly-Fi® broadband connectivity almost everywhere JetBlue flies, the ability to pair a mobile phone for the remote, and much more.

In January, JetBlue Travel Products, relaunched JetBlue Vacations, adding new benefits focused on giving customers the convenience and personalized service often missing from bundled vacation packages. New additions to the JetBlue Vacations portfolio include the Very Important Perks (VIP) and the Insider Experience programs, which infuse humanity into every step of the travel experience. Packages now also include additional benefits such as no JetBlue change fees, earlier boarding on flights, a free inflight alcoholic drink, and access to 24/7 support.

JetBlue aircraft photo gallery:

JetBlue lands in Guadeloupe with first flight to the French Caribbean island

JetBlue Airways today announced that new service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Guadeloupe’s Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP) has officially begun with the airline’s inaugural flight landing on the French Caribbean island at 1 p.m. local time today. Flights will operate on a winter seasonal schedule with service on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

JetBlue will be the only airline to operate flights between the northeastern U.S. and Guadeloupe, one of the French overseas islands, which is often considered one of the Caribbean’s best-kept secrets. Situated just four and a half hours from New York by air, Guadeloupe is an archipelago of five main islands: Basse-Terre, Grande-Terre, Le Désirade, Les Saintes, Marie Galante and a multitude of islands and inlets. Each island welcomes visitors with their own people, landscapes, cultures and traditions.

JetBlue will operate Guadeloupe service using its Airbus A320 aircraft offering the airline’s award-winning service featuring the most legroom in coach (a); free Fly-Fi, the fastest broadband internet in the sky (b); complimentary and unlimited name-brand snacks and soft drinks; free, live DIRECTV® programming and 100+ channels of SiriusXM® radio at every seat.

JetBlue aircraft photo gallery:

JetBlue announces fourth quarter 2019 results

JetBlue Airways Corporation today reported its results for the fourth quarter 2019:

  • Reported diluted earnings per share of $0.56 in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to a diluted earnings per share of $0.55 in the fourth quarter of 2018. Adjusted diluted earnings per share was $0.56(1) in the fourth quarter of 2019 versus $0.50(1) in the fourth quarter of 2018. Note A to this earnings release includes the GAAP to Non-GAAP reconciliation between reported and adjusted diluted earnings per share.
  • GAAP pre-tax income of $220 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to a pre-tax income of $201 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Excluding the one-time items, adjusted pre-tax income of $221 million(1), up 8% from a pre-tax income of $205 million(1) in the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • Pre-tax margin of 10.8%, up 0.6 percentage points from a pre-tax margin of 10.2% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Adjusted pre-tax margin of 10.9%(1), a 0.5 percentage point increase year over year from a pre-tax margin of 10.4%(1), exclusive of the one-time costs.

Highlights from the Fourth Quarter 2019

  • Fourth quarter 2019 revenue per available seat mile (RASM) declined (2.7)% year over year. This decline is largely in-line with our updated guidance range of (3.5)% to (1.5)%.
  • Operating expenses per available seat mile, excluding fuel (CASM ex-fuel)(1) was flat year over year, at the midpoint of our guidance range of (1.0)% to 1.0%. This was mainly driven by the compounding benefits of the Structural Cost Program.

Key Guidance for the First Quarter and Full Year 2020:

  • Earnings per share is expected to range between $0.10 and $0.20 in the first quarter 2020. For the full year, JetBlue expects earnings per share to range between $2.50 and $3.00.
  • Capacity is expected to increase between 1.5% and 3.5% year over year in the first quarter 2020. For the full year 2020, JetBlue expects capacity to increase between 5.5% and 7.5%.
  • RASM growth is expected to range between 0.0% and 3.0% for the first quarter 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
  • CASM ex-fuel is expected to increase between 1.5% and 3.5% for the first quarter of 2020. For the full year 2020, JetBlue expects year over year CASM ex-fuel growth to range between (2.0)% and 0.0%.

Executing our Plan to Reach our EPS Commitments

“I could not be prouder of the accomplishments of the JetBlue family over two decades. Over 20 years, we have become a “force for good” in our industry. We have worked hard to improve our balance sheet, expand and strengthen our network, and have made investments in our fleet to improve margins and returns. More recently, we focused our efforts to reset our cost structure – and return to our roots as a low-cost airline,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s Chief Executive Officer.

“2019 saw an unusually volatile year in our Latin and Caribbean markets, which masked some of the progress we have made in our ‘building blocks’. We are confident in our plan to strengthen our RASM, and expect over two thirds of our revenue initiatives will mature throughout this year. Our progress is showing a significant sequential improvement in our expected RASM growth for the first quarter of 2020.

We are pleased that our business is responding to the actions we’ve been taking in our network, and this year we expect to continue reaping the benefits of our commercial actions. This gives us confidence in our ability to deliver our 2020 EPS goals.”

Revenue Performance and Outlook

“Our fourth quarter and full year 2019 capacity grew in the upper half of our guidance range due to improved completion factor, in addition to shifting the timing of our cabin restyling program to make up for NEO delivery delays,” said Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “Our first quarter 2020 growth is unusually low, and our annual growth is over 2 points lower than our plan from our 2018 Investor Day, reflecting our current expectations of Airbus deliveries.

Our fourth quarter RASM decreased 2.7 percent year over year, in line with our December update range of (3.5) to (1.5) percent, driven by softer than expected close-in bookings for the Thanksgiving peak.

For the first quarter, we expect strong sequential improvement in RASM in both our domestic and Latin markets, resulting from our capacity actions, our revenue initiatives, easier comps and lower scheduled growth. Our first quarter guidance of 0 to 3 percent includes a headwind of approximately one half point to our system RASM, due to earthquakes in Puerto Rico.”

Cost Performance, Outlook and Balance Sheet

“CASM ex-fuel for the fourth quarter was flat, in line with the mid-point of our guidance range, and for the full year CASM ex-fuel grew 0.8%, beating the mid-point of our initial full year guidance of 0 to 2 percent,” said Steve Priest, JetBlue’s EVP Chief Financial Officer.

“For the first quarter of 2020, we expect CASM ex-fuel growth to range between 1.5 and 3.5 percent. The year over year progression in unit costs this quarter is mainly driven by unusually low scheduled capacity growth, given the timing of 2019 deliveries. In addition, we have scheduled maintenance events during the trough period that result in expenses shifting into the quarter.

Our updated 2020 CASM ex-Fuel guidance is now between minus (2) and 0 percent. We are pleased that despite the capacity constraints tied to the NEO delays, our 2020 goal is very much in line with the original CASM-ex Fuel goal we announced at our last Investor Day. Furthermore, our 2020 plan reflects our commitment to deliver on our 3-year CAGR goal of 0 to 1 percent.”

Capital Allocation and Liquidity

JetBlue ended the quarter with approximately $1.3 billion in unrestricted cash, cash equivalents, and short term investments, or 16.4% of trailing twelve month revenue. JetBlue repaid $65 million in regularly scheduled debt and capital lease obligations during the fourth quarter of 2019.

Fuel Expense and Hedging

The realized fuel price in the quarter was $2.07 per gallon, a 7.6% decline versus fourth quarter 2018 realized fuel price of $2.24.

JetBlue has entered into forward fuel derivative contracts to hedge its fuel consumption for the first and second quarters of 2020. Based on the forward curve as of January 10th, JetBlue expects an average all-in price per gallon of fuel of $2.09 in the first quarter of 2020.

Notes

(1) Note A provides a reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures used in this release and provides the reasons management uses those measures.

JetBlue aircraft photo gallery: