DALLAS (AP) — JetBlue's fourth-quarter profit jumped sharply on higher fares, but January storms will hurt first-quarter results at a time when the company is facing rising costs for pilots.
The airline said Wednesday that this month's storms in the Northeast reduced first-quarter revenue by about $45 million and operating income by $30 million. The storms led JetBlue to cancel about 1,800 flights and briefly suspend operations at four airports in New York and Boston.
Company executives partly blamed new federal rules limiting working hours and requiring more rest for pilots. On a conference call with analysts, executives said Wednesday that the new rules will require JetBlue to hire about 5 percent more pilots.
JetBlue also expects to spend $145 million over the next three years to raise pilots' pay by 20 percent, the largest piece in rising non-fuel costs for the airline. The airline has about 2,500 pilots; unlike peers at bigger airlines, they are not represented by a union.
Shares of JetBlue Airways Corp. fell 24 cents, or 2.8 percent, to close at $8.50. The shares are up 40 percent over the past 12 months.
Net income in the fourth quarter was $47 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with $1 million, or less than a penny per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 14.4 percent to $1.37 billion, while operating expenses rose 8.7 percent.
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