Key Points:

  • JetBlue Airways anticipates grounding up to a dozen Airbus A321neos by the end of next year due to Pratt & Whitney engine problems.

  • The airline's majority of GTF engines were manufactured post-2021, thus requiring only a "handful" to undergo full part replacements.

  • JetBlue is adjusting its capacity management in response to these engine issues and other operational challenges, focusing on controlling factors within its reach.

Engine Troubles Lead to Grounded Planes for JetBlue Airways

NEW YORK CITY — JetBlue Airways, a prominent low-cost carrier based in New York, is preparing for the grounding of a significant number of its Airbus A321neos by the close of next year, with projections indicating the number could grow in 2024. This forecast was shared by Ursula Hurley, the Chief Financial Officer of JetBlue, during the airline's earnings call on October 31st.

The Scope and Impact of Pratt & Whitney's Engine Recall

JetBlue currently operates 25 A321neos, with an additional four in storage. The carrier is contending with the ramifications of a recall by Pratt & Whitney (P&W) of PW1100G geared turbofan (GTF) engines due to disc problems. This recall has already caused widespread disruptions across various A320 operators. Fortunately for JetBlue, the majority of its GTF engines were manufactured after 2021, which places them outside the production window of the engines now under scrutiny. Despite this, Hurley mentioned that a "handful" of JetBlue's engines would necessitate full component replacements.

Proactive Measures Amidst Operational Challenges

JetBlue's predicament echoes that of other airlines, such as Mexican carrier Volaris and U.S. discounter Spirit Airlines, both grappling with the effects of the engine recall. In response to these challenges, which include rising fuel costs and aircraft limitations, Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue's Chief Operating Officer, outlined the airline's proactive measures. These include managing capacity by temporarily reducing flights in certain markets and during off-peak times.

JetBlue awaits a detailed service bulletin from P&W that will clarify which GTF engines must be removed. "This is crucial as it will provide a detailed view of serial numbers and will solidify what we believe to be our exposure in 2024 and beyond," Hurley stated.

Despite posting a third-quarter loss of $153 million, Chief Executive Robin Hayes remains focused on mitigating the impact of these external challenges, emphasizing the importance of controlling the controllable as the airline navigates through these turbulent times.