Posted on: 29 October 2013 by Mark Howells
JetBlue Airways has announced changes to its previously published aircraft delivery schedule in order to optimise its fleet, with the move including the deferral of 24 Embraer 190s, the conversion of 18 Airbus A320 positions to A321s, plus a new order for 15 A321ceo and 20 A321neo aircraft.
"We believe these fleet changes will provide increased ability to match capacity and demand throughout our network and reduce costs, leading to improved shareholder returns over the long term," explained JetBlue president and CEO Dave Barger.
As a result of these fleet adjustments, JetBlue will set its Embraer 190 fleet to approximately 60 aircraft in the near term. "While the E190 is critical to our continued success in Boston and San Juan, we are now at the point where our network growth calls for larger gauge aircraft," Barger observed. "In addition to allowing us to serve certain high density markets more cost-effectively, we believe our fleet restructuring plan will allow us to accelerate attractive growth opportunities at Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport."
JetBlue has converted 18 A320s to A321s. The A321 is expected to have unit costs 10%-15% lower than those of the A320 aircraft it will replace. "With significant savings from increased fuel efficiency and better utilisation of our airport slot portfolio in key markets, we believe these A321 aircraft will improve our company's profitability," Barger added.
The fleet changes will enable JetBlue to add 15 incremental A321ceo aircraft to its fleet by 2017, while deferring 24 E190s. "We are reducing our capital commitments through the next three years, which is consistent with our free cash flow and return on invested capital goals," noted JetBlue chief financial officer, Mark Powers.
In addition, JetBlue has placed an order for 20 A321neos for delivery beginning in 2018. Fuel savings associated with the new engine option are forecast to be approximately 12%-15% compared with the current engine option A320 family.
JetBlue expects to retrofit up to 110 Airbus A320s in its existing fleet with Sharklet wing-tip devices beginning in 2015. Sharklets are expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 3%.