JetBlue Airways reported $2.4 billion worth of revenue during the fourth quarter of 2022, its highest ever in a fourth quarter, which the New York-based carrier attributed in part to significant growth in its TrueBlue loyalty program.
President and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty said during JetBlue’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday that TrueBlue recorded a 50 percent year-over-year increase in program enrollment in 2022, representing the most successful year in its history. Geraghty added that TrueBlue also registered a 40 percent year-over-year increase in co-branded signups.
“(The loyalty program) continues to not only exceed our expectations, but also hit new records,” said CEO Robin Hayes.
JetBlue also projects another major boost from True Blue, having announced last month it would make major upgrades to the program for the first time in a decade. The company said it would expand its elite Mosaic programs and create a level of mileage accumulation named tiles enabling customers to obtain perks before reaching mosaic levels of flying.
TrueBlue was far from the only major area of growth for JetBlue in 2022. Geraghty credited a surge in passengers from its Northeast Alliance with American Airlines as a reason for its strong fourth quarter.
“We’re very pleased with performance of the (Northeast Alliance),” she said. “We’re seeing the (Northeast Alliance) very much on the correct trajectory.
While Geraghty declined to provide financial details about its relationship with American, she stated the company expects that its partnership with American Airlines to produce more revenue, with Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker predicting on Thursday that JetBlue will look to expand its partnership with American in 2023. The company more than tripled its number of daily flights from New York’s LaGuardia Airport in 2022 compared to prior to the pandemic.
JetBlue also expects to see capacity increase up to 8 percent year-over-year, both for the first quarter and the full year of 2023. The carrier’s capacity for the fourth quarter of 2022 increased by 2.4 percent from the same period in 2019.
However, chief financial officer Ursula Hurley said JetBlue projects a net loss in the first quarter of 2023, adding that the company is grappling with higher labor costs and surging rentals and landing fees.
Meanwhile, Hayes also addressed JetBlue’s planned merger with Spirit Airlines. He said he expects the transaction to close by no later than the first half of 2024, stating it could happen sooner if the company is able to reach an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department also filed an antitrust suit against American and JetBlue in September 2021, arguing the two carrier’s alliance had reduced competition for consumers. A ruling from a judge, which potentially has major implications for the JetBlue-Spirit merger, could come soon.
“If we (reach an agreement), it’s possible that could happen sooner. But the timeline is down to the Department of Justice, and we certainly want to be respectful of that,” Hayes said, acknowledging the possibility of the Justice Department suing JetBlue if an agreement doesn’t place, which would delay the closing of the merger.
Regarding JetBlue’s fourth quarter financial performance, Becker said results were mostly in line with expectations. The company recorded an adjusted net profit of $72 million for the period. The carrier also saw its revenue per available set mile increase 16.1 percent for the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to the same timeframe in 2019.