Today’s news:

JetBlue turns a profit while airlines struggle

At a time of financial peril in much of the airline industry, the Kew Gardens-based low-fare airline JetBlue has reported a profit for the third quarter of 2001.

JetBlue said it earned $10.5 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30 on sales of $82.6 million, adding that the profit included $6.7 million in federal aid it received following the World Trade Center attack.

As a privately held company, JetBlue is not required to disclose its earnings.

“To report a profit in the third quarter while most of our industry is reporting unprecedented losses is a great tribute to the dedication and hard work of the entire JetBlue team,” said JetBlue CEO David Neeleman.

“They have shown remarkable resourcefulness and adaptability in keeping our airline operating smoothly while dealing with new security directives in the wake of Sept. 11 tragedy. It also shows the resilience of our low-fare, low-cost business model.”

“While we initially reduced our flight schedule in the days following the attacks, we’re currently operating the same number of flights today as we were on Sept. 10,” Neeleman said. “Our growth plan remains intact and we are proud to say that we have not laid off a single employee, nor have we canceled or deferred a single aircraft delivery.”

JetBlue currently operates 84 flights but expects to increase the number to 102 by Dec. 31.

The airline said that for the first nine months of 2001, its net income was $28.3 million on sales of $224.9 million.

The airline reported an overall on-time performance of 83 percent for the third quarter of 2001, compared to an industry average of 77.7 percent.

JetBlue, which flies a fleet of nearly new A320 Airbus jetliners, recently expanded its routes to cities northern and southern California and other western destinations, including Seattle and Denver, as well as New Orleans.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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