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Mar 7
JetBlue Faces a New Challenge
Last month JetBlue announced its first quarterly loss since going public in 2002. The AirlineHub detailed the specifics of the loss.

I point it out here because I have written about JetBlue – and its CEO Dave Neeleman – before. Neeleman is a dynamic leader that approached the tradition and bureaucracy-bound airline industry from a completely new angle and in the process set a new standard for air travel.

Five years into it, JetBlue is facing its first true crisis. Fuel costs, which skyrocketed in 2005, and the impact of the fall hurricanes on travel to and from Florida were a big part of the loss. The airline is also facing maintenance costs for perhaps the first time as its fleet starts to age. Neeleman expressed disappointment but not excuses while the naysayers piled on.

The USA Today reports,

“Since JetBlue's launch in February 2000, the skeptics have said making money in the early years would be easy but that it wouldn't last. At first, its maintenance spending would be next to zero, and its employees would all be at the bottom of the pay scale. But that cost holiday someday would end, they warned. Now some of those skeptics are whispering, ‘I told you so.’"


In 2000, against anyone’s better judgment, Neeleman launched JetBlue. No one but perhaps Neeleman thought it could succeed. However, JetBlue has made it mark as one of the most innovative airlines ever.

Part of that innovation is a culture at JetBlue that plans for and deals with crisis. JetBlue employees have a unity and cohesion that binds them in times of crisis and adversity. I believe it has loyal customers that also will support the airline through this crisis.

For JetBlue and Neeleman, 2006 will be a watershed year that will test his leaderhsip. Will the airline make adjustments to strategy, adapt to the changing and volatile environment or fall in line with most of the industry that regularly suffers losses? I suggest that Neeleman and JetBlue will find strength from this adversity and will find itself again as one of the leaders in the airline industry.

Read more at USA Today including an audio intereview with Neeleman on the value of adversity.

1 Comments/Trackbacks




» Here Are My 5 Bucks, Mr. Neeleman from LeaderNotes
At the end of the flight, Dave Neeleman stood with the flight attendants and said good bye to everyone as we got off the plane.  I took out $5 and gave it to him and told him that I was willing to pay $5 to pitch in and do my part to hel... [Read More]

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