JetBlue Cuts Some Fares to $49

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JetBlue Airways Corp. (NASDAQ: JBLU) has launched a promotional two-day only, one-way fare of $49 on several routes beginning Wednesday, January 3, and ending at one minute before midnight on Thursday. There are blackout dates and other possible restrictions and travel must fall between January 10 and April 25.

This is very similar to a mid-December one-day offer for flights on some routes as low as $44 one-way, with some restrictions. Travel had to take place between January 10 and February 14 or between February 26 and March 14. The allowable travel dates included the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, but not the two-week period surrounding the President’s Day holiday.

Among dozens of published fares, JetBlue is advertising a $49 one-way flight from Boston to New York with the following restrictions: travel must occur on a Tuesday or Wednesday between January 10 and February 28 and availability of tickets at this price is limited.

Bloomberg reported last week that JetBlue’s on-time arrival rate is just 70%, well short of the industry average 79%. Delays add costs at a time when the airline has committed to cut costs by $300 million by 2020.

Late flights also make it more difficult to sell tickets. Maybe a two-day sale can help with that, or then again, maybe not.

For the first 11 months of 2017, JetBlue’s load factor is 84.5%, down 0.7 points year over year. The number of available seat miles has risen by 4.5% and the number of revenue passenger miles has risen by 3.6%. That disparity indicates that the airline’s fleet is growing faster than the number of passengers flying in those planes. Putting passengers in the available seats, even at a discount, is better than flying empty seats.

The airline’s stock traded Wednesday morning at $21.75, down about 2.8% for the day, in a 52-week range of $18.05 to $24.13. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $23.75.