Monday, February 26, 2007

Lesson Learned? CNN-JetBlue Cancels flights

Because of last night's snow, JetBlue cancels 70 flights preemptively.

JetBlue moves quickly to cancel flights this storm

Low fare carrier cuts 40% of JFK flights nearly two weeks after stranding passengers there on the tarmac for hours.

NEW YORK ( -- JetBlue, which took a hit to earnings and a worse hit to its reputation when passengers were stranded for hours at its New York hub on Feb. 14, moved quickly to cancel 40 percent of its flights to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport as a new storm hit the area Monday.

The discount carrier said flights not going to or from its main hub at JFK were not yet being cancelled early Monday due to the storm.

JetBlue (Charts) also flies out of Newark Liberty International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in the New York area, but it has only limited service at those locations.

The airline has 170 arrivals and departures a day scheduled at JFK. As of 6:30 a.m. ET, the low-fare airline had cancelled 68 of those flights through early afternoon.

The airline admitted that much of the problem on Feb. 14 came from not cancelling flights as quickly as it should, leaving passengers on planes that could not take off due to weather and could not return to occupied gates to discharge passengers.

It took almost a full week for the airline to recover from the fiasco, and it estimates that the problem cost it $30 million.

The airline, which announced what it called a "Passengers Bill of Rights" in the wake of the Feb. 14 storm, announced Saturday that passengers booked Sunday into or out of Richmond, Va; Washington, Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio may rebook without fee or fare difference through Thursday.

There were 32 JetBlue flights to and from Dulles International Airport outside of Washington cancelled Sunday, along with two to and from Pittsburgh.

Sunday it extended the same rebooking without penalty offer to passengers flying to or from the three New York area airports, Newburgh, N.Y., Chicago and Boston, as well as the four airports affected Sunday.

Shares of JetBlue took a hit on Feb. 20 after reports that the problems continued through the President's Day holiday and the company's statement about the cost of the problem.

Still, its shares are up about 20 percent over the last 12 months. They've outperformed leading low-fare competitor Southwest (Charts) and matched gains at United Airlines parent UAL Corp. (Charts), but badly trail most old-line hub-and-spoke airlines such as American Airlines parent AMR (Charts), Continental Airlines (Charts) and US Airways Group (Charts).

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