JetBlue posts loss and forecasts lower capacity in 2024 –

JetBlue posts loss and forecasts lower capacity in 2024 –

JetBlue aircraft at JFK Terminal 5 in New York.

Leslie Josephs | CNBC

JetBlue Airways posted a loss in the fourth quarter and forecast lower capacity this year as the company struggles to return to profitability.

The New York-based airline reported a net loss of $104 million for the final three months of 2023, compared with a profit of $24 million a year earlier. On a per-share basis, JetBlue lost 31 cents in the fourth quarter, or 19 cents on an adjusted basis, compared with a profit of 7 cents in the year-ago period.

The airline expects revenue to fall 5 percent to 9 percent in the first three months of the year, more than the 5.5 percent decline that Wall Street analysts had predicted. Capacity will fall by up to 6% in the first quarter, the airline said.

JetBlue said it expects capacity to decline in the low single digits in 2024 and that adjusted margins could approach breakeven.

The airline has struggled with higher costs, operational challenges and changing travel habits just as a federal judge earlier this month blocked its plan to acquire Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion. JetBlue warned last week that its agreement with Spirit could be terminated but gave no further details in Tuesday's filing.

Here's what JetBlue reported for the fourth quarter compared to Wall Street's expectations met by LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv:

  • Adjusted loss per share: 19 cents versus 28 cents expected
  • Revenue: $2.33 billion versus expected $2.29 billion

Fourth-quarter revenue fell 3.7% year-over-year but was still slightly ahead of Wall Street estimates.

JetBlue has optimized its network to focus on more profitable flights. CNBC reported on JetBlue's planned flight cuts earlier this month.

“Demand during peak periods remains strong, and we continue to manage our off-peak capacity to reflect evolving demand trends,” JetBlue COO and incoming chief executive Joanna Geraghty said in a press release. “We plan to continue to refine our network and product offerings to better serve our leisure customers while diversifying revenues through margin-enhancing initiatives.”

Other airlines, including Southwest, have also slowed their growth or refined their networks to avoid excess capacity – and low fares – during off-peak hours while discounting less popular flights.

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