Just how much can you offer for a $100 fare? For JetBlue
Color me unsurprised; the FCC auction has been widely discussed, after all. Here's what hasn't: Adding onboard Web connectivity, if done correctly, could provide another way for JetBlue to raise its average take per customer. Doing so has never been more important for the airline than it is now.
In April, the carrier announced its second straight quarterly loss, which prompted CEO David Neeleman to announce a broad restructuring plan that includes delaying aircraft deliveries, focusing on shorter-haul flights, and other cost-cutting measures. Modest fare increases are also expected to be a part of the plan, which Neeleman says could produce roughly $70 million in gains.
All of that sounds great. History, however, says that cutting costs alone is no panacea. Just consider the number of carriers that have been in bankruptcy more than once, including U.S. Airways
Low-price leadership is fleeting, and brand loyalty is difficult to maintain -- unless, of course, there's something unique about the product. That's where the Web clicks in for JetBlue. Establishing an onboard Internet service could make flights more enjoyable, which, in turn, would make it a luxury worth paying for.
Consider, too, that JetBlue's Live TV subsidiary bought the license from the FCC. That means the airline could theoretically license spectrum and technology to competitors seeking a similar service for a fee. Either way, JetBlue, already in a dogfight, has a lot more ammo today than it did just a week ago.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers thinks Web access would make JetBlue's cramped flying quarters a whole lot more bearable. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out which stocks he owns by checking Tim's Fool profile . The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy .