JetBlue’s profit soars on lower fuel prices by Reuters @FortuneMagazine January 29, 2015, 7:24 AM EDT E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons JetBlue JBLU reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as it benefitted from lower fuel prices and flew more passengers. JetBlue, whose shares were up sharply in pre-market trading, said average fuel cost per gallon fell to $2.70 in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 from $3.10 a year earlier. The company’s load factor rose to 82.1% from 80.9%, leading to an 8.5% increase in revenue passenger miles (RPM), a metric of an airline’s passenger traffic. JetBlue said it expects capacity to increase 11-13% in the first quarter and 7-9% this year. The airline said in November that it would charge fees for low-fare customers’ first checked bags, following industry practices. JetBlue said on Thursday that it expects fuel costs, which amount to a third of an airline’s total operating expenses, to be $1.97 per gallon for the first quarter. Rival United Continental last week forecast fuel costs to be $1.96-$2.01 per gallon for the quarter. Barclays had said in December that airlines could see a fall of about $10 billion in fuel costs in 2015. JetBlue’s net profit increased to $88 million, or 26 cents per share, from $47 million, or 14 cents per share. Total operating revenue grew 5.9% to $1.4 billion. Analysts on average expected a profit of 24 cents per share on revenue of $1.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. New York-based JetBlue’s shares had gained about 85% in the last 12 months to Wednesday’s close of $15.77 on the Nasdaq.