JetBlue extends refund plan for laid-off customers

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NEW YORK - JetBlue Airways Corp. said Monday it is extending its refund program for customers who lose their jobs after buying tickets.

The Forest Hills, N.Y.-based carrier said a "positive" customer response led to a continuation of the program that originally lasted through June. Similar programs have been launched by car companies including Hyundai Motor America.

The program is part of an effort to persuade customers to book early as demand continues to suffer amid the recession. Air travel customers are waiting longer to book flights or not flying at all as economic worries mount.

Traffic on JetBlue has continued to fall, albeit less significantly than in previous months. JetBlue said traffic last month fell 2.7 percent, compared with a year ago.

To further entice customers, JetBlue is also launching a "300,000 seat Summer Sale" with airfares as low as $29 to $129 to destinations across the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Besides trying to grab skittish customers, the carrier is stepping up fare sales as competition heats up with rivals including Southwest Airlines Co. and Virgin America.

JetBlue will begin service in June to Los Angeles International Airport from New York, adding to its nearby stops of Burbank and Long Beach.

It will also launch four daily nonstop flights from Boston's Logan Airport to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) on Sept. 9. Dallas-based Southwest has announced plans to start flying that route and expects to begin service on Oct. 1.

JetBlue shares fell 3 cents to $5.03 in morning trading.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)