Aviation News

June 21, 2011

JetBlue Orders 40 New Airbus A320neo and 30 A321 Aircraft, Will Add Winglets to Entire Fleet

JetBlue has announced a major order of new Airbus jets as well as several other fleet modifications, the largest since the airline’s inception.

Rendering of JetBlues Airbus A321 aircraft, appropriately named 3 2 1 blue

Rendering of JetBlue's Airbus A321 aircraft, appropriately named, "3…2…1…Blue" (Rendering by Airbus/Fixion))

The Forest Hills, NY-based airline has purchased 40 more fuel efficient Airbus A320neo aircraft, and converted 30 of its 52 outstanding classic A320 orders to larger A321 aircraft.

In addition, all new A320s delivered to JetBlue after 2013 will come fitted with winglets to improve fuel burn and range, and the existing A320 fleet will be retrofitted with winglets.

Also, eight A320 orders previously scheduled for delivery in 2014 and 2015 have been pushed back to 2017 in an effort to “smooth out aircraft deliveries, reducing capital commitment over the near term.”

Finally, JetBlue’s Embraer E190 fleet, originally set to top out at 100 planes, will be “optimized” to 75 instead. “The E190 is performing very well as our new, shorter-haul market aircraft, often serving to build the demand in the market for eventual up-gauge to our A320,” said JetBlue President and CEO Dave Barger in a statement. “We are now at the point where the balance between frequency and capacity is tipping in favor of capacity, and we are exercising our most strategic asset – our order book – to better match capacity with growing network demand.”

The A320neo (New Engine Option) is an update of Airbus’s wildly popular narrowbody aircraft line designed to increase fuel efficiency, range and/or capacity. While sharing 95 percent of the classic A320’s parts, the neo will use new engines and larger, sharklet-style wingtips to burn about 15 percent less fuel, which translates to about 500nm of extra range or two tons of added payload. Two engines are available— CFM International’s LEAP-X and Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G—but JetBlue has not yet decided on one.

JetBlue’s A321s will be powered by IAE engines, as are their classic A320s. First deliveries will occur in 2013.

“Our network strategy, with its focus on New York, Boston, and the Caribbean/Latin America, is exceeding our expectations, and this revised fleet plan will help us continue to execute our strategy,” said Mr. Barger. “Our goal is to continue to grow on a sustainable basis, generate positive free cash flow and continue to enhance our customers’ experience.”

“With today’s announcement, we have taken significant steps in reducing our annual capital commitments through the next five years, while ensuring we are positioned for long-term success in a competitive, fuel challenged, environment,” said JetBlue Chief Financial Officer Ed Barnes.

Over 400 A320neo family jets have been ordered since the line’s launch in December 2010. JetBlue-rival Virgin America is set to become the launch customer of the A320neo thanks to an order in January of this year, with first deliveries expected in 2016.

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