Market Overview

US Airline Companies Shaking Up Their Infrastructure

US Airline Companies Shaking Up Their Infrastructure

Jet Blue Appoints Two Vice Presidents, United Airlines Announces CEO, and American Airlines Introduces a Passport Scan Feature

JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ: JBLU) is once again the subject of a possible merger speculation and by no other than Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) who invested quite a lot in earning a reputation for its smooth public relations strategy. This intrigue came out as both companies dropped out of an upcoming Buckingham Research conference next week. But the speculation has resulted in Jet Blue's shares trading up 2.8% on December 4.

The U.S.-based airline just also announced its new company's vice president for labor relations as well as the vice president for enterprise information security. But a lot more is happening in that blue sky and to those airlines flying in that sky to be exact.

Performance – Is JetBlue An Easy Takeover Mark?

The US-based company belonging to the services and airlines sector has a market cap of $5.52 billion. Its stock has risen 0.7 percent one month since its last earnings report in October. But it is underperforming the S&P 500 but let's look a bit deeper for a clearer "blue" image. When excluding 4 cents from non-recurring items, the company's latest earnings per share came in at 59 cents per share, managing to exceed Zach's consensus estimates. But more importantly, quarterly earnings jumped 37.2 percent year-to-year due to low fuel costs.

Average fuel cost per gallon and including fuel taxes decreased 11% year over year. And passenger revenues improved 3.3 percent year-over-year and they ultimately, accounted for 96.1% of the top line so it's safe to say, they make the revenues. But despite the fact that even other revenues were up 21.6 percent, both revenue per available seat mile and passenger revenue per available seat mile dipped.

Capacity, also measured per seat mile, and traffic measured in revenue passenger miles, also expanded. And total operating costs shrined 4.7 percent year over year despite increasing costs of an expanding workforce. The quarter ended with cash and cash equivalents amounting to $695 million which is more than $474 million from the end of 2018. Total debt decreased slightly from 2018's $1, 670 million to $1,636 million. For the fourth quarter, the company is well on track to achieve its 2020 EPS target in the range of $2.5-$3. Meanwhile, Norwegian Air (OTCQX: NWARF) just appointed Jet Blue's Marty St. George as its interim Chief Commercial Officer as part of a significant management ‘reshuffle' in an effort to achieve profitability in the coming years so clearly Jet Blue has something worth tapping into. Its latest quarter did show a positive trend, but can it keep it up is the question.


According to many analysts and industry experts, tough times are ahead for all US airlines. And all airlines in general, as even The Emirates Group predicted difficulties for its subsidiary airline whose net profit slumped 86% in the first half due to both higher fuel prices but also low-cost competitors, as revealed on November 20th. Operating costs of the largest airline in the Middle East increased 13 percent compared to last year with fuel expenses rising 42 percent mostly due to higher prices.

But United Airlines Is Doing More Than Okay

Meanwhile, United Airlines Holdings (NASDAQ: UAL) sealed its succession plan on Friday. Its next CEO will be its President Scott Kirby, an industry veteran who along with current CEO, Oscar Munoz, orchestrated the impressive turnaround for the company. Profits have grown and performance has improved, so all Kirby has to do is keep it up.

The company's shares have already 87% since Kirby became president of United, after leaving American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ: AAL) who just introduced passport chip scanning feature to its to the app on Wednesday.

Using the technology behind cashless payment system like Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) Apple Pay, it first airline to use near field communication (NFC) technology to securely transmit passport information. Although passport will still need to be shown when boarding, passengers will surely be grateful for the time-saving effect gained by eliminating the need of an American agent opening and scanning the passport at the airport.


Everyone is clearly reshaping their management to ensure that the captain of the boat is brave and equipped to handle the complexity of such a mature and challenging market. With the two new appointments, Jet Blue has shown that it supports the vision of its crew members being its greatest differentiator and that its greatest focus is safety and security.

But is this enough to differentiate the "Jet Blue experience"? Its latest earnings revealed positive trend, but the question is can Jet Blue persevere in this direction? Especially considering the competitive pressures from its peers and unfavorable winds ahead.

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