Centerlines - January 2008 - (Page 16)

ONE ON ONE NOT SO FAST! D JetBlue’s Dave Barger says slower growth will help ensure success B Y M IC H A E L S E N E C A L “IN 2006, we opened 16 new routes, and I think in hindsight we certainly know that we were growing too fast and we opened too many routes. It’s just not realistic to mature 16 routes simultaneously.” ave Barger assumed the CEO role at JFK-based JetBlue Airways on May 10, three months after ice storms on Valentine’s Day forced the cancellation of nearly 1,700 flights, including JetBlue’s, and stranded thousands of travelers throughout the Northeast. Until that Valentine’s Day ice storm, JetBlue had been basking in the glow of good press ever since it began service in 2000. JetBlue had been striving to be the good guy with great service—complete with free live TV, new planes and low fares. With this reputation, it has been one of the most courted airlines. Under founder and chairman David Neeleman, JetBlue took early steps to buy 100 Airbus 320s and then 100 Embraer 190s to build an east-west and north-south network. However, expansions outpaced revenue growth at the same time as record hikes in jet fuel hit the industry. JetBlue posted net annual losses in 2005 and 2006. Analysts project it will post another loss this year. Germany’s Lufthansa recently announced that it would purchase a 19 percent stake in JetBlue for $300 million. The deal has been labeled a financial one for JetBlue and a strategic one for Lufthansa. JetBlue under Barger has been consolidating its success, undertaking somewhat slower growth to ensure that its essential identity and commitments don’t change. Barger in an interview with Centerlines paints a picture of the slowest growth year in the company’s brief history. And, the bulk of that growth will be to international destinations. Barger joined JetBlue in 1998 as president, shortly after Neeleman founded the carrier. Prior to JetBlue, Barger served in various management positions with Continental Airlines, and he held various director level positions at Continental Airlines from 1988 to 1998. From 1982 to 1988, Barger served in various positions with New York Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Texas Air Group. As Neeleman relinquished his position as CEO in May and Barger moved up, the shift in leadership was characterized it as a natural progression. The hiring of Russell Crew as COO shortly after the Valentine’s Day event allowed Barger to focus less on operations and more on management, giving Neeleman the chance to focus on strategy, and move the company into a mature, less entrepreneurial, phase. 16 CENTERLINES | JANUARY 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Centerlines - January 2008

President’s Message
Canadian Airports
Associates’ Corner
Policy Center
Regulatory Front
On the Hill and On the Stump
One on One: Dave Barger
Revenue: The Concessions Awards
Environment: O’Hare Expansion
Passenger Focus: Houston Friendly
Safety and Security: After Comair, What Next?
Air Service Recruiting: Charleston’s Acquisition of AirTran
On Management: Performance Benchmarking at DFW
Now Underway
Grand Opening
Conference Previews and Reviews
New Members
Index of Advertisers/
Box Scores

Centerlines - January 2008