JetBlue sticking with seat caps into next year, CEO says

In this news, we discuss the JetBlue sticking with seat caps into next year, CEO says.

(Reuters) – JetBlue Airways JBLU.O will continue to limit the number of seats it sells on each flight early next year, chief executive Robin Hayes told Reuters on Wednesday, citing the role that politics play in customer confidence.

The move sets it apart from its low-cost counterpart Southwest Airlines LUV.N, which said last week it would stop blocking middle seats on December 1, citing recent medical research showing the risk of contracting the coronavirus on airplanes is very low.

“Our view is that over time the seat caps will go away, but right now that’s a very big issue for customer perceptions,” Hayes said in an interview.

Hayes, however, warned that the policy was “incredibly expensive, especially in a struggling industry.”

JetBlue posted a net loss of $ 393 million in the third quarter on Tuesday as lower travel demand due to the pandemic hit revenues. Like other airlines, it burns millions of dollars every day.

Hayes said he expects JetBlue’s business to be “largely recovered” by the end of next year, as the low-cost carrier focuses on domestic leisure travel, which should recover before business and international travel.

Business travel accounts for less than 20% of JetBlue’s flights, he said.

JetBlue, which currently caps its seat capacity on flights at 70%, will review the policy in the first quarter of 2021, Hayes said.

Among other airlines, Delta Air Lines DAL.N and Alaska Airlines ALK.N will continue to restrict the seating capacity of their planes until at least January 6. Hawaiian Airlines HA.O is also blocking seats, while American Airlines AAL.O and United Airlines UAL.O are not.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski, editing by Franklin Paul and Cynthia Osterman

Original © Thomson Reuters

Originally posted 2020-10-28 19:56:10.

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