JetBlue to pare back Airbus orders after posting first-quarter loss

JetBlue, the sixth-largest American low-cost carrier by passenger numbers carried, has posted a first-quarter 2020 loss of US$269 million and, as a result, has reduced its order book with Airbus by approximately one third in a bid to save around US$1.1 billion on aircraft purchases.

JetBlue now anticipates receiving 40 Airbus jets by the end of 2022 as opposed to the previously ordered total of 61, but still includes delivery of seven A321neos and one A220 jet this year.

Like all American airlines, JetBlue has been hard hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen domestic air travel drop by approximately 95%. Despite limited booking numbers, the low-cost carrier believes that May will now see a turning point in passenger numbers and anticipates second-quarter demand to be only 80% below pre-pandemic predicted results. In an effort to boost liquidity, JetBlue’s daily cash burn should now fall to below US$10 million, as opposed to a previous US$18 million in March, which excludes any government aid.

JetBlue is due to receive US$936 million from the government payroll assistance program, having also applied for a loan of US$1.14 billion to draw on if required. Quarterly financial results also revealed that revenue dropped 15.1% to US$1.59 billion for the quarter compared to 2019, including a 52% decline in March. Net losses were US$268 million for the quarter as opposed to a profit of US$42 million for the same quarter in 2019. Excluding special items, the net loss was US$116 million.

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