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JetBlue's (JBLU) March Traffic Up 12.1%, RASM Declines 7%

Low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways Corp. JBLU witnessed a significant improvement in air traffic in the month of March this year. Traffic – measured in revenue passenger miles (RPMs) – came in at 3.97 billion, up 12.1% from 3.54 billion recorded a year ago. On a year-over-year basis, consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) increased 12.5% to 4.57 billion.

However, the load factor or percentage of seats filled by passengers decreased to 86.8% from 87.2% in Mar 2015. Similarly, JetBlue’s preliminary RASM (revenue per available seat mile) in the month fell roughly 7% on a year-over-year basis. The carrier also expects a 7% to 8% of annualized decline in RASM for the first quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile, for the first three months of 2016, JetBlue generated RPMs of 10.98 billion (up 14.1% year over year) and ASMs of 13.03 billion (up 14.1%). However, the load factor declined 10 basis points year over year to 84.2%.

We note that last week, the company suffered a major blow when it lost the Virgin America Inc. VA deal to Alaska Air Group, Inc. ALK that clinched it for $4 billion, inclusive of debt and capitalized aircraft operating leases. It is to be seen whether JetBlue now considers the option of merging with other carriers like Hawaiian Holdings Inc. HA.

Meanwhile, JetBlue recently announced plans to expand its premium “Mint” service. The transcontinental service will add destinations along the West Coast, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle. Notably, JetBlue’s Mint service is highly popular and has been boosting revenues significantly.

JetBlue’s focus on route expansion in order to improve the company’s operations in the areas by driving passenger count and boosting ancillary revenues also bode well. Meanwhile, to enhance its network, the carrier plans to flag off an average of 140 daily flights from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).

We believe that the launch of these services coupled with its latest request for 12 daily flight slots to Havana will drive this Zacks Rank #4 (Sell) company’s revenues going forward.

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JETBLUE AIRWAYS (JBLU): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
HAWAIIAN HLDGS (HA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
ALASKA AIR GRP (ALK): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
VIRGIN AMERICA (VA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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