David Neeleman | Founder, JetBlue, Azul & "Breeze”
Breeze Airways

David Neeleman, Founder, JetBlue, Azul &

David Neeleman is that rarest of entrepreneurs, a man who has created and launched four successful, independent airlines, including the USA?s JetBlue and Morris Air (sold to Southwest), Canada?s WestJet and Brazil?s Azul, and also reinvented a 75-year-old national carrier, TAP Air Portugal.     David was born in Brazil while his father was Reuter?s São Paulo Bureau Chief.  His family moved to Utah while he was still a child, but David would return to Brazil many times throughout his life.  His career began in 1984 when he co-founded a low-fare carrier called Morris Air with June Morris, the owner of Salt Lake City-based travel agency Morris Travel.  As President of Morris Air, David implemented the industry?s first electronic ticketing system and pioneered a home reservation system where calls are handled by reservationists working from their homes.   Following the sale of Morris Air and a short period with Southwest Airlines, David took the electronic ticketing system that he had initiated at Morris Air and developed it into Open Skies, the world?s simplest airline reservation system.  David sold Open Skies to Hewlett Packard in 1999.  Also during this period, David acted as a consultant to WestJet Airlines, the successful Canadian low-fare start-up airline.   David then founded JetBlue Airways in New York and spent a decade as Chief Executive Officer (1998 to 2007) and Chairman (2002 to 2008).  An amazing success by any measure, JetBlue was an instant hit with travelers and was the first airline to earn $100 million annually within five years, thus becoming a ?major? airline fastest.   JetBlue has won countless awards and accolades including Top Low Cost Airline for Customer Satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates and Best Airline by Consumer Reports.  It won Conde Nast Traveler?s Readers Choice Awards for Best U.S. Airline for seven consecutive years. After JetBlue, it was Brazil?s turn to experience David?s magic in bringing new planes and low fares to many markets that had never seen nonstop service.   Azul, launched in 2008, now serves more than 100 destinations with an operating fleet of more than 140 aircraft, including Brazilian-built Embraer E-190 and E-195 jets, and ATR-72s.  Just as JetBlue in the US before it, Azul is the first airline in Latin America to offer LiveTV inflight TV programming via satellite.  It has been named Best Low Cost Airline in South America for the last five years at the Skytrax World Airline Awards. In 2015, David?s Gateway consortium won the bidding to acquire a stake in Portugal?s national carrier TAP Air Portugal.  Gateway?s investment represents just under 50% of the airline.  With the new investment, TAP is taking delivery of 71 brand new Airbus aircraft, flying the entire family of next generation Neos, and has expanded from 2 US gateways to 8 in North America with a ninth to be added in 2020. David now turns his attention back to the US domestic airline industry with as net unnamed ?Breeze Airways? project, with a plan to re-invent low cost travel with nonstop service between secondary and tertiary markets.

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