JetBlue Posts Quarterly Profit As Travel Demand Helps Cover Jump In Costs

JetBlue Airways posted a third-quarter profit of $57 million as strong travel demand and higher fares helped airlines recoup higher fuel and other costs.

The New York-based carrier’s revenue in the quarter rose 30% from a year ago to $2.56 billion, according to analyst estimates. JetBlue’s operating margin narrowed to 5.4% from 9.4% a year earlier, and expenses rose nearly 36% over the same period in 2021.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said the operator “expects another strong quarter with single-digit margins in Q4 and continues to regain our revenue strength to expand further in 2023.”

Here’s JetBlue’s third-quarter performance versus Wall Street expectations, according to Refinitiv’s consensus forecast:

Adjusted earnings per share: 21 cents vs. 23 cents expected.
Gross income: $2.56 million vs. $2.56 million was expected.
Shares of JetBlue fell more than 5% in morning trading Tuesday after posting earnings.

“Despite our strong revenue outlook, we have to think about every penny we spend, especially in today’s environment, where our entire business model is based on lower costs than other airlines to compete with low fares,” JetBlue CEO Ursula Hurley wrote in a statement. yours. a note to employees Verified by CNBC.

Hurley said despite the quarterly results, the airline will not report full-year earnings in 2022 “after facing Omicron variations and operational challenges in the first half of the year”.

Major U.S. airlines were upbeat about travel demand, beating analysts’ expectations for resilient bookings, especially a recovery in international travel.

Airline executives say shortages of planes and pilots are limiting their ability to add capacity, helping to keep airfares high. Airlines have been reluctant to add flights after several costly operational crises prompted them to add more capacity to their systems.

JetBlue plans to increase flights by 1%-4% in the fourth quarter compared to 2019. The airline compares capacity levels to three years ago to show recovery from the Covid pandemic.

“Given the fragile aviation ecosystem, we are cautiously applying the more conservative planning estimates we use for operating and summer investments,” CEO Hurley said in an earnings release.

The airline expects unit costs without fuel to rise 10.5% from the fourth quarter of three years ago. Unit revenue growth is expected to be 19%. Third quarter unit revenue was 23% higher than the previous three years.

Hurley said the airline covered about 27 percent of its fuel costs in the fourth quarter.

JetBlue executives will discuss the findings at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, when they may take questions about the acquisition of low-cost carrier Spirit. Spirit shareholders strongly backed the $3.8 billion acquisition, which now faces stiff hurdles with federal regulators.