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Robust Dec Traffic for JetBlue

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JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU - Free Report) displayed solid traffic across its network for the month of Dec 2013. The carrier reported airline traffic – measured in revenue passenger miles or RPMs – of 3.23 million, up 12.7% year over year. Consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) was also up 9.0% year over year at 3.90 billion.

The load factor or percentage of seats filled by passengers, however, was 82.9%, up 280 basis points. Passenger revenue per available seat mile (PRASM) increased 13% year over year. The company registered a completion factor of 98.5%, with on-time performance of 63.6%.

In 2013, JetBlue Airways generated RPMs of 35.84 (up 6.8% year over year) and ASMs of 42.82 billion (up 6.9% year over year), on a consolidated basis. For full-year 2013, load factor was 83.7%, reflecting a decline of 10 basis points from the corresponding prior-year period.

The other top three airline carriers in the U.S., namely, Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL - Free Report) , United-Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL - Free Report) and Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV - Free Report) reported solid operational results for the month of Dec 2013. All the carriers reported double-digit PRASM growth in the same month.

We expect JetBlue to sustain traffic growth in the coming days based on increasing travel demand, network expansion, fleet re-designing, optimization of unit revenues, capital expenditure management and disciplined growth. The company’s growing presence in key markets and penetration into untapped arenas will support its momentum.

The airline also entered into an interline ticketing agreement with Silver Airways which offers the highest number of flights in Florida and the Bahamas. JetBlue is also vying to get a share of the slots at Washington Regan National Airport, which is a stipulation in the merger between U.S. Airways and American Airlines. These initiatives are expected to boost performance going forward.

JetBlue Airways carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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