Despite the fact that the company had to cancel more than 1,400 flights, leading to nearly $20 million in lost revenue during peak holiday travel — and profit — periods, JetBlue is set to recover far faster than flagship carriers such as Delta (DAL), which canceled 2,200 flights, and US Airways (LCC), which grounded more than 1,500 flights. In total, the hurricane grounded more than 11,200 flights.
Before the Irene mess, JBLU was flying high, having recently returned to pre-2008 crisis levels, with traffic up more than a fifth since July 2008. While companies like American Airlines are trying to boost their low sales with expansion into Asia, JBLU is landing deals with as many continents it can.
Many of the flagship carriers already have created code-share groups, such as Star Alliance and One World, so newcomers such as JetBlue have found themselves out in the cold when it came to single-ticketing partners.
Just in the past few months, however, it has secured just about every ocean route it needs. Earlier this year JetBlue teamed with Virgin Atlantic to offer single ticketing on trans-Atlantic flights. Just weeks before, JetBlue signed a deal with South African Airways allowing code-sharing to 20 U.S. destinations.
In the summer, the partnership expansion brought Emirates Airlines onboard, setting the stage for flights direct to the Middle East with extensive connections throughout Africa and Asia.
All that was left was for JetBlue to secure a Latin American partner, and in late August it did just that with its TAM Airlines (TAM) tie-up allowing daily code-share flights into Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro from JFK and Orlando.
Not only will Latin American travelers have direct links into U.S. destinations, but JetBlue’s customers will be heading for the Copacabana thanks to 45 Brazilian destinations and half a dozen more through the continent.
Capacity is expected to increase between 9 percent and 11 percent in the third quarter and to increase between 6 percent and 8 percent for the full year. Second quarter net earnings were $25 million, down from $31 million year-on-year.
JBLU next reports in late October.
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