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JetBlue's (JBLU) December Traffic Rises, Load Factor Falls

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JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU - Free Report) reported traffic figures for December 2018. Traffic, measured in revenue passenger miles (RPMs), increased 6.8%year over year to 4.35 billion. Consolidated capacity (or available seat miles/ASMs) expanded 8.5% to 5.35 billion on a year-over-year basis.

However, load factor or percentage of seats filled by passengers contracted 130 basis points (bps) to 81.4% in the month as traffic growth was outpaced by capacity expansion.

This Long Island City, NY-based low-cost carrier registered a completion factor (system wide) of 99.8% with 74.5% flights on schedule.

For the full year, the carrier posted a 7.5% rise in RPMs while ASMs grew 6.9%, both on a year-over-year basis. Also, load factor rose 50 bps to 84.8%.

Q4 RASM Update

The company now anticipates fourth-quarter revenue per available seat mile (RASM) to climb around 2.4% year over year within the previously guided range of 1.5-3.5%. The view includes 0.3 points adversity due to higher-than-expected completion factor. However, revenue trends during December have been as expected.

Additionally, the carrier expects capacity to expand between 7.5% and 9.5% in the final quarter of 2018. Consolidated operating cost per available seat mile excluding fuel is predicted to dip in the 1.5-3.5% band in the quarter. Meanwhile, fourth-quarter fuel cost, net of hedges, is projected to be $2.48 per gallon.

The carrier will report fourth-quarter 2018 earnings figures on Jan 24.

Zacks Rank & Other Key Picks

JetBlue carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some other top-ranked stocks in the broader Transportation sector are Azul (AZUL - Free Report) , Spirit Airlines (SAVE - Free Report) and ArcBest Corporation (ARCB - Free Report) ,  each flaunting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Shares of Azul, Spirit and ArcBest have gained 21.1%, 24.5% and 6%, respectively, in a year.

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