Editor's note: This story has been changed to clarify that the FAA specifies eight-hour flight times for pilots, not shifts.
That being said, the third-quarter earnings report was somewhat disappointing, even considering the difficult industry environment. The company reported a net loss of $500,000 versus a $2.7 million profit in the same period last year, mostly due to ongoing fuel cost pressures. The disappointment arises when the industry as a whole, with standout performers like Southwest
The one bit of positive news, though, was that JetBlue is scaling back its growth plans as it seeks to better manage deployment of its current fleet for stronger profitability. Analyst reports have remarked that many of the routes the airline has introduced in the past few years have been unprofitable. Obviously, the company is now seeking to address this concern by focusing on carefully choosing new routes and better revenue management.
The weekend Journal article on pilot fatigue testing has caused a bit of a black eye for the company. It collected data on pilot alertness levels during extra-long shifts from more than 50 passenger flights during May 2005. While the company received approval from the local New York FAA office, which usually handles such local matters, it did not obtain approval from national FAA headquarters. This caused problems when critics of the controversial testing pointed this out to headquarters, which then reprimanded JetBlue management for not seeking approval on what is known to be a contentious industry issue.
Ultimately, though, the issue boils down to union politics. JetBlue, being non-unionized, only has to deal with FAA regulations which specify eight-hour flight times for pilots, while many union contracts for competitors like American Airlines
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