NEW YORK - Memories of the Valentine's Day ice storm that grounded more than 1,000 JetBlue flights and tens of thousands of passengers didn't stop Suzanne Dohm from flying on the airline.
"One incident like that is not going to turn me off. Those were extraordinary circumstances," said Dohm, of New York, while waiting for a JetBlue flight.
Customers may have forgiven the airline that offers free snacks and DirecTV at every seat, but investors have not: Shares of JetBlue Airways Corp. of New York have been on a long slide and now trade for little more than half their January peak.
One big concern is that JetBlue has been forced to scale back its growth plans as it faces new competition from start-up Virgin America and others. Analysts say the seven-year-old carrier's high debt load and reliance on cutthroat domestic routes leave it vulnerable to a takeover.
JetBlue revenue per available seat mile has grown only 9.4 percent over the past five years, versus 23.5 percent at Southwest Airlines Co. and 28.6 percent at AMR Corp., which operates American Airlines. Per-seat costs, meanwhile, have jumped 29.4 percent at JetBlue, compared to a 20.7 percent increase at Southwest and a 3.3 percent increase at AMR.
JetBlue made headlines in February when an ice storm collided head on with the carrier's policy of not canceling flights ahead of bad weather. Thousands of people were trapped on planes for hours or stranded in terminals for days.
"We gridlocked ourselves," said Dave Barger - named chief executive in May when JetBlue's board asked founder David Neeleman to step down.