JetBlue waiting on Airbus for winglet retrofit

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New York-based JetBlue Airways is still awaiting word from Airbus on when it can roll out winglet retrofits across its Airbus A320 aircraft, in an impasse that the airline's chief executive Dave Barger describes as "frustrating".

The airline has previously said that it hopes to begin the retrofits some time in 2013, but Barger tells Flightglobal today that there has been "no commitment from Airbus". "We are waiting for Airbus to tell us when we can start the retrofit," says Barger. When asked what the reason behind the hold-up was, he says: "We would love to know.... The retrofit winglet has really been frustrating."

JetBlue is set to take new A320s next year equipped with sharklets but has long planned to retrofit fuel-saving winglets on its existing A320s. The carrier has tested them out on two aircraft and the tests have gone well, says Barger. He points out the recent change in leadership at Airbus as a possible factor behind the stall on the winglet retrofit.

Fabrice Bregier took over as chief executive of Airbus from Tom Enders earlier this year.

Airbus is also currently embroiled in a months-long dispute with Aviation Partners over the intellectual beginnings of the A320 sharklet.

JetBlue expects to begin receiving sharklet-equipped A320s from the second quarter of 2013, he adds. It is also scheduled to add its first A321s next year, and will receive four of the type towards the end of 2013.

The A321s will likely be deployed on routes from the US northeast down to Florida, as well as on transcontinental routes and on flights to the Caribbean, says Barger.