JetBlue Airways reported making $1.2 billion in operating income for 2015, a considerable increase over 2014's $515 million haul. If you follow airlines even casually, you know most of the reason for the big gain - fuel is much cheaper now.
I presume most of you follow the financial press, so I won't go into the details of JetBlue's 2015 earnings. But earnings calls can provide some interesting context about airlines. I was following JetBlue's call, and here is some of what I learned.
- JetBlue paid an average of $1.93 per gallon for fuel last year, down from $2.99 in 2014.
- This year, JetBlue expects to pay only $1.12 per gallon in the first quarter.
- JetBlue is touting its operational reliability. Between Dec. 21 and Jan. 4, It said it didn't cancel one flight.
- At the end of 2015, JetBlue had 215 aircraft - 138 320s, 60 E190s, and 25 A321s.
- This year, JetBlue will add 10 A321s.
- The airline is giddy about Fort Lauderdale. "Profitability levels continued to exceed our expectations," CEO Robin Hayes said.
- JetBlue will expand into Cuba as soon as it can.
- JetBlue thinks it has an advantage over some competitors because it carries few connecting passengers. More than 90 percent of its passengers only fly point-to-point. That makes the operation more efficient.
- Remember the plan JetBlue outlined on Jan. 25 to add 12 seats to its A320s and 10 to some A321s? It'll produce more than $100 million in extra revenue by 2019.
- JetBlue is using its Mint planes - those have the airline's new business class - on routes to Aruba and Barbados, and they are performing well. "They’re very premium markets and ... attract high-fare paying customers," Hayes said.
- JetBlue's new Mastercard from Barclays will debt before April. That'll be worth an extra $60 million annually to JetBlue.
- JetBlue is allowing passengers who fear the Zika virus to rebook. "We’ve really seen no measurable impact either to event bookings or customer refunds," Marty St. George, JetBlue's top commercial executive, said.
- Sales of Coast-to-Coast flights in business class are performing well, but fares up front are going to stay low, at least compared with historical norms. "We're still not out there saying, 'I'm going to go back to this $2,000 price point that our legacy competitors used to do in the past,'" St. George said.