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David Neeleman, CEO, JetBlue Airways

David Neeleman
David Neeleman
One book: Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
One newspaper: New York Times
One favorite Web site:
One gadget: Blackberry
One plane ticket: Rome

Founded: 2000
Headquarters: Salt Lake City, UT.

Made first flight from New York's JFK International Airport to Fort Lauderdale, FL, in February 2000. Now flies to 27 airports around the U.S. and the Caribbean with a fleet of 60 Airbus A320s.

Plans to expand fleet include an order for 202 new A320s and a fleet of 200 Embraer 190s, to be delivered from 2005.

Ticket sales system fully operated by 800 reservation agents working from home and taking more than 10 million calls a year.

Named best domestic airline by Conde Nast Traveler in 2002 and 2003.

They say: "By offering our customers the best experience we can deliver, we find most of them come back regularly and tell their friends and family about us. It's not rocket science... our customers have given us incredible word-of-mouth recommendations."

What are you reading?

11 Immutable Laws of Leadership.

Who's been your biggest influence?

Herb Kelleher, the founder of SouthWest Airlines.

What's your biggest mistake?

My first business, a travel agency in Utah. I learned that you should never launch an under-capitalized start-up!

Is management an art or a science?

Well, it's probably a bit of both, of course but I lean towards art.

What do you reach for on your desk when the fire alarm goes off?

My mobile phone.

Curriculum Vitae

Born: 1959 in Sao Paulo, Brazil

  • Launched career in aviation as co-founder of Salt Lake City-based low-fare carrier Morris Air, introducing the industry's first electronic ticketing and pioneering the home reservation system that is now foundation of JetBlue's ticket sales.
  • Following Morris Air's takeover by SouthWest Airlines, developed electronic ticketing system into "Open Skies," a highly successful airline reservation system that he sold to Hewlett Packard in 1999.
  • Launched JetBlue Airways out of New York City in 2000 after securing $130 million in capital funding from investors.
  • Holds dual U.S. and Brazilian citizenship and contributes to "perpetual education fund," providing low income Brazilian students with scholarships to attend high school, university and trade schools.
  • He says: "Flying was a glamorous thing to do. People enjoyed it because they were appreciated. We're trying to get back some of that."

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