- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 13, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Shares of low-fare carrier JetBlue Airways Corp. soared yesterday in their market debut.
JetBlue's shares blew past their opening price of $27, rising nearly 67 percent to close at $45 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
"We knew it was going to be a hot deal," said Helane Becker, an analyst at Buckingham Research.
JetBlue, based in New York, went public a little more than two years after it began flying nationwide routes from its base at New York's Kennedy International Airport. The company, which sold 5.87 million shares, has 108 flights per day to cities in Florida, California, Puerto Rico and upstate New York.
The funds raised from the initial public offering will be used by JetBlue to add 59 new Airbus A320s by the end of 2007, more than tripling the size of its fleet.
JetBlue said it had net income of $38.5 million in 2001, a year in which the major carriers racked up billions in dollars of losses because of the slump in business travel and the impact of September 11.
The company's shares, trading under the symbol JBLU, were originally expected to price between $22 and $24, but the figure was raised based on its underwriters' belief that investor demand for the stock was higher than the supply.
"It's trading so high on the fact that it's been the most hyped IPO that has come along in a while," Miss Becker said.
JetBlue executives say the company is modeled after Southwest Airlines, the nation's leading low-fare airline. Southwest's stock has risen sharply since September 11, whereas most major carriers are struggling to regain their pre-September 11 heights.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, JetBlue well-known for its union-free work force and low-cost operations said running the company could get more expensive as time goes on.
JetBlue expects "maintenance costs to significantly increase as our fleet ages, and we may experience greater labor costs in the future," the company said in its SEC filing.

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