JetBlue is struggling along with the rest of the airline industry, but the carrier has found some relief in the form of government assistance and historically low oil prices. 

"The travel industry is going to be hit by this. There's no question about it," JetBlue Chairman Joel Peterson told Cheddar. "The hotel and airline industries have been hit as hard as any." 

Through the federal CARES Act, JetBlue received a $251 million low-interest loan and a $685 million payroll grant that require the company to retain employees through September 30. 

At that point, the airline could resume involuntary furloughs and pay cuts. 

"We're hoping not to have to, but we're keeping our eye on that," Peterson said. 

United Airlines, by comparison, has told employees that it plans to fire workers come October 1. 

The $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package set aside $50 billion for the struggling airline industry, which has seen revenue plummet amid global coronavirus travel bans and lockdowns. 

While the pandemic has caused a dramatic drop in revenue, some critics have pointed out that the airlines' financial behavior leading up to the crisis didn't help their case.

JetBlue, for instance, authorized an $800 million share buyback program in September 2019 — approximately 85 percent of the amount of stimulus it just received —  that was supposed to run through 2021. 

Major airlines, including JetBlue, have since written a letter to Congress promising a suspension of share buybacks if it approved the bailout.

As normal operations resume, Peterson said JetBlue will continue to take precautions by taking passengers' temperature, deeply sanitizing planes, and maintaining some social distancing. 

He said that the airline would eventually cut back on routes, but in the short-term the federal government has denied a request from JetBlue to suspend service to other markets under the conditions of the stimulus bill.  

One possible reprieve amid this difficult financial and regulatory environment is the sudden drop in U.S. oil prices, which this week saw a future contract dip into the negative. 

"Oil is one of the largest expense items," Peterson said. "We spent well over a billion dollars a year on oil, so the savings there will be significant."

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