JetBlue Airways Corp., the No. 3 U.S. airline by stock market value, doesn't know if it will make money in the second half of this year because of rising jet-fuel prices, Chief Executive David Neeleman said.
"That's really hard to tell," Neeleman, a Utah native, said Tuesday in an interview. "I don't know. It depends on fuel prices."
JetBlue, based in New York, is forecast to have a third-quarter profit of 2 cents a share and a fourth-quarter loss of 1 cent, based on the average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Financial. The low-cost airline has posted profits for 14 consecutive quarters since it first sold shares to the public in April 2002.
Airlines have raised fares several times this year to help offset spending for fuel. Neeleman said boosting prices too much could damp demand.
Jet-fuel prices for delivery in New York harbor have climbed 64 percent this year to $1.97 a gallon Tuesday. Prices reached a record $2.40 a gallon Sept. 1 after Hurricane Katrina damaged refineries and oil production facilities along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Rising fuel prices contributed to $5 billion in combined losses at the largest U.S. carriers in the first six months of this year, according to the Air Transport Association. JetBlue said July 21 its second-quarter profit fell 43 percent as spending for jet fuel almost doubled.