New York-headquartered JetBlue has announced that it will delay the arrival of four former Thomas Cook Airbus A321-200s. The low-cost carrier made the announcement in its first-quarter earnings report released on May 7.
Contradicting what the airline had previously said back in January, it now plans to hold off on taking the leased second-hand aircraft. However, it is pushing ahead with receiving some Airbus A220-300s later this year.
JetBlue has renegotiated its orders with Airbus
The airline said that deferring the A321s arrival was part of a $1.1bn revision of its Airbus order backlog. According to aviation website CH-Aviation, during a quarterly earnings call, JetBlue Chief Financial Officer Steve Priest said:
“We negotiated a deal with Airbus to rationalize our order book. We appreciate their partnership in supporting a new delivery schedule that helps our efforts to protect JetBlue.”
The Thomas Cook Airlines Airbus A321-200s, registration numbers MSN 5582, 5606, 6059, and 6126, were supposed to by dry leased from the Aviation Capital Group. The Aviation Capital Group is a Newport Beach, California-based aircraft leasing company that has approximately 500 aircraft deployed amongst 90 airlines in around 45 countries.
Now according to its newly announced aircraft delivery schedule, JetBlue is expecting to receive one Airbus A220-300 and seven of the European planemaker’s A321-200neos in 2021. As for 2019, JetBlue had hoped to receive one A220-300 and as many as 11 Airbus 321neos. Now due to Airbus factory delays, revisions have had to be made.
Following its revised forecast, JetBlue says it expects to receive seven A220-300s and ten A321neos (including five LR versions) during 2021. The following year, JetBlue is looking at getting eight A220-300s and seven Airbus A321LRs, which is eight less than was initially planned.
In total, JetBlue expects to end this year with a fleet of 267 aircraft, five more planes than it currently has on the books.
Narrowbody flights to London are being put on hold
Despite the current COVIOD-19 crisis, which is harming airlines and passengers, JetBlue remains “extremely excited “about swapping out its E190s for newer Airbus A220-300s. The much-talked-about transatlantic service from the American Northeast to London using narrowbody jets also now appears to be on hold.
JetBlue knows that changes to its business plan will need to come about following the current pandemic, yet it hasn’t shelved its plans to fly to London. Most likely, this is something that will be looked at again next year when, hopefully, the coronavirus is a distant memory.
JetBlue will survive COVID-19
When speaking about what needs to be done CH-Aviation quotes JetBlue Chief Executive Robin Hayes as saying:
“We know we’re going to emerge as a smaller airline. But we still see that opportunity albeit probably shifted back a little bit in terms of time.”
In its short 21-year history, JetBlue had grown to operate 1,000 flights per day before the coronavirus struck. However, it appears to be in a better position than some other carriers to weather the storm.
When speaking with CNBC, Hayes said that the airline was, “hunkering down, cutting costs, and conserving cash,” adding that JetBlue had ample liquidity before the pandemic, and would be ready when a recovery takes shape.
“We are able to sit it out for as long as we need to sit it out,” Hayes said.