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.