JetBlue will optimize 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,” Mr. Barger said. “In addition to allowing us to more cost-effectively serve certain high density markets, 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 to 15% lower than those of the A320 aircraft it will replace, driven in part by a 10 to 15% improvement in fuel consumption per seat. “With significant savings from increased fuel efficiency and better utilization of our airport slot portfolio in key markets, we believe these A321 aircraft will improve our company’s profitability,” Mr. Barger said. The fleet changes will enable JetBlue to add 15 incremental A321ceo aircraft to its fleet by 2017, while deferring 24 E190 aircraft. “With today’s announcement, 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,” said JetBlue Chief Financial Officer Mark Powers.
In addition, JetBlue has placed an order for 20 A321neo aircraft for delivery beginning in 2018. Fuel savings associated with the new engine option A320 family is forecast to be approximately 12 to 15% compared to the current engine option A320 family. JetBlue expects to retrofit up to 110 Airbus A320s in its existing fleet with sharklets beginning in 2015. Sharklets are expected to reduce fuel consumption by up to 3%.