JetBlue Airways defers deliveries of 21 A320 jets to offset fuel costs

Surging fuel prices have claimed another casualty with New York-based  JetBlue Airways Corp, a low-cost carrier partly owned by Germany's Deutsche Lufthansa AG, saying it had now deferred deliveries of 21 Airbus A320 jets in order to further slow its expansion programme.

The deliveries have been pushed back to 2014 and 2015 instead of starting next year through 2011, JetBlue said in a statement today. The carrier will now add 11 planes in 2009 through 2011, down from a planned 32.

The airline also said it plans to sell $160 million in debt that can be converted into stock, with the proceeds going to pay existing borrowings. Pushing back aircraft deliveries also means adding less debt and enhancing access to funds, company officials said.

JetBlue now joins other carriers, such as American Airlines, in attempting to curb growth and cut costs to offset an 83 per cent surge in fuel costs over the past year.

JetBlue chief executive officer, Dave Barger, said in the statement that ``it is essential to take a more financially conservative approach to managing our business.''