JetBlue to opt out of sharklets on some A320s

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New York-based JetBlue, which will be the first North American carrier to operate with sharklets on its Airbus A320s, will not retrofit the wing tips on its entire in-service fleet.

The airline announced yesterday it had signed a letter of intent with Airbus to purchase 110 shipsets of the fuel-saving retrofit sharklets for its in-service A320 fleet. Deliveries will begin in 2014.

The 110 shipsets of sharklets are in addition to another five shipsets of sharklets that are being retrofitted on JetBlue's most recent five A320 deliveries, says JetBlue. This means that JetBlue will have a total of 115 shipsets of sharklets retrofitted on its in-service fleet. It will take deliveries of new A320 family aircraft with the sharklets factory installed.

The airline has 127 A320s in its in-service fleet, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows, which is 12 aircraft more than the number of retrofit sharklet shipsets ordered by the carrier.

JetBlue says it placed the order "based on return of investment and aviation configuration". "We wanted to make sure the investment produces a sound return and our aircraft are fit to carry the modification," says an airline spokesperson, declining to elaborate more.

Age could be a factor behind JetBlue's decision to not retrofit the sharklets on its entire in-service fleet. Ascend data shows that of the 127 A320s being operated by JetBlue, 10 were built in 1999 and 2000.

Besides A320s, JetBlue also operates Embraer 190s. It is scheduled to take delivery of its first four A321s this year, out of an order for 30 of the type. It also holds orders for 40 A320neos.