Riding the Storm Out, JetBlue Tops 3Q Profit Forecasts

(AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

JetBlue exceeded the third-quarter profit expectations on Wall Street, despite major flight disruptions following a pair of disastrous hurricanes.

JetBlue on Tuesday reported third-quarter earnings of $179 million, down from the $199 million for the same period last year.

On a per-share basis, the New York company reported net income of 55 cents, 3 cents better than industry analysts had predicted, according to a survey by Zacks Investment Research. The company posted earnings of 58 cents per share in the third quarter last year.

JetBlue estimated that disruptions caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma had a negative impact of 6 cents per share on its earnings. The airline cancelled more than 2,500 flights because of the hurricanes, about 3 percent of departures in the period.

JetBlue said it expects bookings in Florida to return to normal in November after weeks of lingering impacts on demand following the storms.

With recovery in Puerto Rico expected to take longer, the company said it will redeploy planes that would have taken tourists there to other Caribbean destinations. The company pointed to strong bookings from New York and Boston to Aruba, Grand Cayman and Barbados. The airline will still fly to the island, but it will be scaled back to meet the “visiting friends and relatives” demand, which accounts for about two-thirds of air traffic there.

JetBlue said it expects the redeployments of leisure flying to other Caribbean islands to last well into 2018 as hotels and resorts start to re-open for business.

The airline posted revenue of $1.81 billion in the period, which met Street forecasts, and topped the $1.73 billion for last year’s third quarter.

Shares of JetBlue Airways Corp., which have fallen almost 10 percent since the beginning of the year, rose about 1.5 percent to $20.19 in midday trading.