JetBlue Passenger Traffic Rises 9 Percent in February

JetBlue Airways reported Thursday that its passenger traffic increased 9 percent for the month of February compared to the same time period in 2010. Paying passengers in February flew 2.08 billion miles, compared with 1.91 billion a year ago.

JetBlue’s capacity, or total number of seats available on their aircraft, rose 1.4 percent to 2.6 billion available seat miles. JetBlue’s occupancy rate, or how many of those total available seats are filled by paying passengers, rose 5.6 percentage points to 80.1 percent in February.

In recent years, occupancy rates over 80 percent would only occur in the busy summer months of July and August. The occupancy rate provided by airlines in monthly traffic reports only includes paying passengers, so it doesn’t take into account seats reserved for crew or passengers using frequent flier miles. So flights are often much more full than their occupancy rates imply.

JetBlue Airways remains bullish about the remainder of 2011. The airline’s leaders say their optimism is based on the strength of the carrier’s growing Boston and Caribbean markets, increasing penetration of the business travel market and plans for as many as a half dozen more interlining partners. They also talked about ancillary revenue growth and fuel hedging as positive factors.

For the full year of 2010, JetBlue reported net income of $97 million. This compares to net income of $61 million for the full year 2009.

“Clearly, 2010 was an excellent year for JetBlue,” said Dave Barger, JetBlue’s CEO. “Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our outstanding crewmembers, we successfully transitioned to a new customer service and reservations system, strengthened our network in key markets such as Boston and the Caribbean, and created new revenue opportunities through airline partnerships and other product enhancements. As we look ahead into 2011, we believe we are taking the right steps to continue to strengthen our airline and improve our competitive position.”