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JetBlue reports profits despite industry losses

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The Queens-based discount airline JetBlue has reported a substantial increase in profits for the fourth quarter of 2002 at a time of financial distress in most of the airline industry.

"I am once again proud to announce that JetBlue delivered a strong performance this quarter despite continuation of the challenging industry environment in which we operate," said David Neeleman, CEO of the low fare airline.

"We attribute this success to our strong brand and loyal customer following, our efficient utilization of assets and our continued emphasis on cost control as we grow. Most importantly, our success stems from the ongoing dedication of each crew member ensuring that the JetBlue Experience continues to be exceptional."

JetBlue reported a 37.2 percent increase in net income for the final quarter of 2002 with a 96 percent rise in revenue. The airline's earnings were $15.2 million for the quarter as compared with $11.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2001.

Operating revenues climbed to $187.2 million from $95.5 million in the fourth quarter of the previous year.

For the full year JetBlue's net income rose 42.5 percent to $54.9 million from $38.5 million in the preceding year. Operating revenues were up 98.2 percent to $635.1 million from $320.4 million.

"We move into 2003 well-positioned to continue our success," said Chief Executive Officer and President Dave Barger. "Our financial results are strong, our product is very well-received and we believe our crew members are the best in the industry."

JetBlue, with corporate headquarters in Forest Hills, began flying three years ago with new Airbus A320 jetliners equipped with leather seats and television at every seat. The airline recently added a second daily flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport to Las Vegas with fares starting at $99 one way if booked via www.jetblue.com. and reserved seven days ahead.

JetBlue already served Las Vegas with an evening flight leaving at 6:50 p.m. The new flight departs JFK at 8:30 a.m.

The airline is scheduled to put into service another 13 new A320 jets by the end of this year.

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

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