A profit-generating plan by JetBlue Airways to squeeze more passengers into its A321 jets by installing smaller bathrooms isn't working out as planned.
During an earnings call with industry analysts this week, JetBlue Chief Financial Officer Steve Priest said the bathrooms installed on 21 of its A321 planes are being sent to the maintenance shop to repair "design failures with the space-efficient lavatories."
A JetBlue spokesman described the problem as "alignment issues" that led to "out of service lavatories" but declined to elaborate.
JetBlue began repairing the lavatories in September and already has completed about a third of the 21 planes, Priest said. The Space Flex 2 lavatories are built by French manufacturer Zodiac Aerospace, which did not respond to requests for comments.
Traditional airline lavatories are located on either side of the aisle at the back of the plane but in front of the galley where flight attendants prepare meals. The Space Flex 2 squeezes both bathrooms, side by side, behind the food galley.
The design, which was introduced to the industry in 2014, can increase the number of seats on an A321 to 162 from 150 seats. JetBlue previously told investors that the additional seats could lead to a $100-million increase in revenue.
Priest told analysts the New York-based airline is hopeful it can fix the problems with the lavatories before adding them to its A320 jets.
"We're doing this before we begin modifications on our A320s to avoid having to take aircraft out of service at a later date," he said.
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