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JetBlue Recovery Plans Focus on TrueBlue Maturation, Northeast Alliance

JetBlue is pinning their hopes of growth and recovery on their “Northeast Alliance” with American Airlines and the growth of the TrueBlue loyalty program. The carrier announced their plans in their 2021 second quarter results call, while posting GAAP pre-tax earnings of $57 million.

During 2020, JetBlue made a bet on “visiting friends and relatives” travel, expanding service to popular tourist destinations. One year later, the airline is pivoting to focus on their “Northeast Alliance” with American Airlines and the growth of the TrueBlue loyalty program. Leaders for the airline outlined their vision with their 2021 second quarter financial results, while announcing a GAAP pre-tax earnings of $57 million.

Growth Plans Focused on “Supercharging” TrueBlue, Activating Northeast Alliance

Much of the discussion around growing JetBlue focused on their partnership with American Airlines, as well as what was described as the maturation of the TrueBlue loyalty program. With the Northeast Alliance coming together, leaders for the airline believe they will get back to pre-pandemic passenger levels by the end of September 2021.

“We operated a peak 929 flights per day in early July, a far cry from the roughly 140 average daily departures in the second quarter a year ago,” said JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes on the investor call, as quoted by a Seeking Alpha transcript. “We are confident that our competitive advantages, our service, outstanding onboard product and cost structure and the disciplined approach of the three years preceding the pandemic will drive our long-term recovery and sustainable success.”

As with other airlines, JetBlue is also relying on their TrueBlue loyalty program to help bring flyers back to the skies. After securing a long-term credit card agreement with Barclays and Mastercard, the carrier is now looking for ways to improve their program – both in terms of the Northeast Alliance and among their biggest fans.

Slide courtesy: JetBlue

“We often talk about how JetBlue’s co-brand and TrueBlue program is relatively immature,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and COO of JetBlue, on the investor call. “In this case, I think what that means for us is tremendous ramp and tremendous growth over the coming years and very much closing what has been a gap for us for quite some time.”

Finally, the carrier pointed to vaccines as one of the reasons for increase passenger confidence. However, without clear guidance on when and how travel will open between the U.S. and the United Kingdom for inoculated travelers, the airline is planning on a “wait and see” approach for their trans-Atlantic expansion.

“The plan is, we’re looking at September…just to sort of bring down some of the flying,” said Hayes. “And then we’ll keep it – we’ll continue to review on a month-by-month basis.”

JetBlue Results Round Out Quarterly Airline Financial Results

With their results, JetBlue joins American and Delta Air Lines in posting positive numbers for the first time in over a year. Despite their aggressive growth plans, United Airlines was the only carrier to report another straight loss for the quarter.