Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Mint flights soon to be majority of JetBlue transcon capacity

Mint-configured Airbus A321 aircraft will make up the majority of JetBlue Airways’ transcontinental capacity for the first time in November, a sign of the premium offering’s ongoing success.

New York-based JetBlue introduced lie-flat Mint business-class seats on the New York JFK-Los Angeles route in 2014 on an A321 configured with 16 Mint seats. It is rapidly adding the product to more routes, with JFK-San Diego the most recent addition. Transcontinental Mint flights, originally designated for the New York JFK market, have expanded to Boston and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

“Mint continues to exceed our expectations,” JetBlue president and CEO Robin Hayes told analysts and reporters last week. “Mint demonstrates that there is clearly a customer segment looking for a higher quality offering at a lower price. Next month Mint flying will, for the first time, account for the majority of transcontinental capacity.”

Seat miles flown on Mint aircraft—configured with 159 total seats, including the 16 Mint seats, versus 200 seats on a non-Mint JetBlue A321—will rise 60% year-over-year (YOY) in the fourth quarter, according to JetBlue EVP-commercial and planning Marty St. George.

Flights between Fort Lauderdale and both Los Angeles and San Francisco were on Mint aircraft in the 2017 third quarter, but not in the 2016 third quarter, providing a useful YOY comparison. “West coast [Mint] flights from Fort Lauderdale are exceeding our expectations with [third-quarter] RASM gains of 12% YOY,” St. George said. He noted that Mint aircraft will comprise 16% of JetBlue’s total capacity in the fourth quarter, up from 11% in the 2016 fourth quarter.

JetBlue is scheduled to take delivery of 11 A321s in 2018, and is maintaining flexibility in terms of how many will be Mint configured, CFO Steve Priest said. “The first three A321s are scheduled to be Mint aircraft,” he explained. “The following three are scheduled to be delivered in our [200-seat] configuration. We expect the remaining five to be [non-Mint, 200-seat aircraft], but retain flexibility to choose a configuration that provides the greatest margin benefit.” 

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

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