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JetBlue — and the airline industry — hopes the post-Sandy recovery doesn’t get tripped up by an economy falling over the “fiscal cliff.”
JetBlue CEO David Barger said today it’s disappointing that politicians of both parties can’t get together to forge a solution to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” but he added that the airline is “cautiously optimistic” about its prospects in 2013.
Barger said that JetBlue, which is a backer of the nonpartisan FixTheDebt campaign, won’t be making any changes at this time to employees’ income tax withholdings in anticipation of possible fiscal-cliff-compelled tax hikes, but he implored Republicans and Democrats in Washington to reach a compromise for the stability of the economy.
Speaking to Maria Bartiromo on CNBC’s Closing Bell right after the stock markets closed this afternoon, Barger said that JetBlue’s passenger demand has snapped back since Superstorm Sandy, and load factors are running at around 85%.
In other tidbits from the program, Barger said:
- He expects further airline consolidation in 2013, and that would be a welcome development because it would rid the system of excess capacity;
- Latin America is a dynamic aviation market and there are several strong airlines in the region;
- He would love to see the words “airline” or “aviation” uttered during a State of the Union address because of the industry’s impact on the overall economy;
- Asked about a Priceline report that average Christmas holiday airfares sold on its site have jumped about 4% since last year, Barger said he would tell Priceline that airfares are actually down around 14% over the last few years, when adjusted for inflation.