JetBlue Airways said Tuesday that its third-quarter net income rose 58 percent, and it will expand flying through the rest of this year and order more planes.
The profit gains came as traffic rose more than five percent, and the amount each passenger paid to fly per mile also rose more than five percent.
The New York-based airline earned $71 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, or 21 cents per share, up from $45 million, or 14 cents per share, in the same months a year earlier.
Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a profit of 22 cents per share.
Revenue rose 10 percent to $1.44 billion, matching analyst estimates.
Fuel prices fell 1.1 percent despite a $3 million loss on fuel hedges that settled during the quarter.
Traffic on JetBlue has been rising this year, and the airline said it will add more flying through the end of this year. It projected a capacity increase of 7 percent to 9 percent for the fourth quarter, which will bring it up 5.5 percent to 7.5 percent for the year.
JetBlue said it would order 35 new Airbus planes, shifting toward the larger A321, which is a slightly stretched version of the A320 that makes up the bulk of JetBlue’s fleet today. JetBlue’s A320s have 150 seats, versus 159 on its A321s. JetBlue cut orders for the current version of the A320, replacing them with orders for the A321s.
JetBlue Airways Corp. CEO Dave Barger in a statement called the larger A321 “the ideal aircraft for our high-density markets.”
Some of the new A321s will go toward JetBlue’s “Mint” premium service between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco, intensely competitive routes where JetBlue is up against Virgin America, United and Delta.
JetBlue will be the first airline to get a U.S.-built Airbus plane, due in 2016 from the new assembly facility the European airplane company is building in Mobile, Ala.
JetBlue also said that in 2015 it will begin retrofitting its current A320s with special fuel-saving wingtips called “sharklets.” It said the new wingtips should cut fuel consumption by up to 3 percent.
JetBlue also flies the 100-seat Embraer E190. It has orders for 24 more of those planes, with one arriving next year and five more in 2015. On Tuesday, it pushed that order back. Now the next new E190 isn’t due until 2020.