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JetBlue Strengthens in the Caribbean

Zacks Equity Research

JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU) continues to fortify its network in Central America with the introduction of a new non-stop service from New York’s John F. Kennedy (:JFK) International Airport to Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain. This is the 84th city within JetBlue’s network and 25th non-stop destination in the Caribbean, where the company continues to expand operations.

JetBlue which already offers new services from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport to different Caribbean and Latin American destinations expects to add another non-stop service to Port-of-Spain on May 1. New York’s home grown airline targets both business and leisure travellers with the launch of these new routes.

The company will launch several new destinations from Fort Lauderdale to Montego Bay, and Punta Cana on the same day along with connecting flights between Newark in New Jersey and Santiago in Dominican Republic.

The New York bound flight will take four and half hours, while the Port-of-Spain flight will take around six hours. On the contrary, the Fort Lauderdale-Port-of-Spain flight will take approximately four hours.

In January, JetBlue won 40 new take-off and landing slots at Reagan National Airport (DCA), including 16 that it leased from American Airlines. The slot purchase is part of the mega merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways Group Inc. – to form American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL) – which required the carriers to give up 52 take-off and landing slots at DCA and 17 pairs at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

We believe the new non-stop route from JFK will reinforce JetBlue’s position in New York, where the company has to give up the ownership right of 12 pairs of take-off and landing slots to American Airlines, which the latter had leased from the former.

However, rival carrier Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) has started selling summer tickets for non-stop service between various places in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Southwest, which is known for its low-cost fares, could increase competition within the region for JetBlue.

JetBlue sports a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Another stock worth considering within this sector is United Continental Holdings Inc. (UAL), which carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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