JetBlue Posts September Traffic Numbers

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JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) shares rose slightly after reporting its traffic numbers for September. On Tuesday, both Southwest and United Continental  reported September traffic stats as well.

JetBlue’s traffic in September increased 10.8% from September 2015, on a capacity increase of 7.9%.

Load factor for September 2016 was 83.2%, an increase of 2.1 points from September 2015. JetBlue’s preliminary completion factor was 99.5% and its on-time performance was 78.7%. JetBlue’s preliminary revenue per available seat mile (RASM) for the month of September decreased approximately 2% year over year. For the third quarter of 2016, RASM is expected to decrease between 3% and 4% year over year, in line with prior expectations.

As for the other airliners, Southwest flew 9.9 billion revenue passenger miles (RPMs) in September 2016, an increase of 7.9% from the 9.2 billion RPMs flown in September 2015. Available seat miles (ASMs) increased 6.0% to 11.8 billion in September 2016, compared with September 2015 ASMs of 11.1 billion. The September 2016 load factor was a record for the month of September at 84.2%, compared with 82.7% in September 2015.

The company continues to estimate its third-quarter 2016 operating revenue per ASM will decline in the 3.5% to 4.5% range, as compared with third quarter 2015, with roughly 0.5 point of the decline resulting from the company’s July 2016 technology outage.

By way of comparison, United’s September 2016 consolidated traffic (RPMs) increased 3.9% and consolidated capacity (ASMs) increased 3.6% from September 2015. Its September 2016 consolidated load factor increased 0.3 points compared to September 2015.

United now expects third-quarter 2016 consolidated passenger unit revenue to decline in the range of 5.5% to 6.0% compared to the third quarter of 2015. The year-over-year performance was primarily affected by a strong U.S. dollar, lower surcharges, travel reductions from customers influenced by lower oil prices, competitive actions and passenger demand not growing at the same pace as industry capacity. The company’s consolidated passenger unit revenue result was near the top end of the initial guidance range, largely due to better than expected September close-in bookings driven by the timing of certain holidays.

Shares of JetBlue were trading down fractionally at $17.85 Wednesday morning, with a consensus analyst price target of $22.36 and a 52-week trading range of $14.76 to $27.00.