UPDATE 1-JetBlue suffers quarterly loss,puts growth on hold

Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:07am EDT

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CHICAGO, July 22 (Reuters) - JetBlue Airways (JBLU.O) on Tuesday reported a net loss, reversing a year-ago profit, on rising fuel costs and said it has suspended its near-term growth plans.

The low-cost carrier said it lost $7 million, or 3 cents per share, in the second quarter, compared with a net profit of $21 million, or 11 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company reported operating revenue of $859 million, a gain of 17.7 percent from a year ago.

"We are also encouraged to see continued strength in our bookings throughout the summer," JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger said in a statement. "However, revenue gains are clearly not keeping pace with the extraordinary increase in the price of jet fuel."

JetBlue said its fuel bill rose 63.7 percent in the quarter to $370 million. The entire U.S. airline industry has been battered by soaring fuel costs that have eroded financial progress made through a series of fare hikes since 2006.

The company said it would suspend its near-term growth plans beginning in September, when it expects capacity to be down about 10 percent year over year. The airline said it does not plan to grow in 2009.

JetBlue ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents amounting to $846 million and $397 million of investment securities. (Reporting by Kyle Peterson, editing by Mark Porter)

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