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Dave Barger, President & CEO, JetBlue Airways

Dave Barger, President & CEO, JetBlue Airways

» Interview | Friday, March 16, 2012 • Air News Times
Q: What are the next challenges you believe for the year to come?

DB: I think the foremost challenge that we continue to have as an industry is harmonization. How can you harmonize security and air traffic control systems  across Europe, in the United States, across Asia, in the South American region as well? That will happen in a year-to-year basis, so I think this harmonization is near for airlines. Specifically for U.S.-based airlines, another challenge is to right-size capacity that has competed in the same markets from a product perspective. From a JetBlue perspective, we are really taking care of our staff so that we can continue to drive a meaningful difference for the consumer at the end of the day.

Q: What are your plans in terms of expansion, are you focusing on any market in particular?

DB: Yes, JetBlue is expanding. We’re the largest airline in New York at Kennedy airport; we’re the largest domestic airline in New York. We’re also the largest airline in Boston, and we continue to grow in Boston. We now have 100 trips a day. We continue to grow in the Caribbean and in Latin America; we’re the largest airline in Puerto Rico, we’re the largest airline in the Dominican Republic, and we are very excited to get into Cuba where there is normalization of relations. I think our product works very well for all those Cuban communities across New York, Florida and California.  We’re growing, but with a very specific purpose in Boston and into the Caribbean and Latin America.

Q: Are you considering entering an alliance?

DB: Not at this time. We have a kind of open architecture, so we like to provide connections for our customers whether to Star Alliance partners, SkyTeam partners, oneworld partners, or even unaligned carriers. I think that’s the beauty of having a network at Kennedy Airport, which is the most strategically located gateway in the world. And there are close to 100 airlines operating in New York. So for us to plug in with all those different airlines, I think an open architecture is the right way to do it as opposed to being just in one alliance.

Q: So, you are forecasting more code – sharing, more interlining agreements?

We have announced that we will begin cooperation with another couple of interline partners later this year. Potentially there will be more code–shares as well, but it’s not so much about how many but rather it’s about making sure that each one is done right. Then the traveller’s experience, the check–in experience, the baggage experience, is seamless. A code-share in and of itself is not that important; what will bring the customer back is the right customer service.
Q: What is your view on liberalization and especially on the EU and US relationship?

DB: Well, I think it’s such a small investment,. liberalization, because it’s a global economy. I support greater foreign investment even for U.S. carriers. This is an old status that needs to change. Our largest shareholder is Lufthansa German Airlines, and I think that’s been very important for JetBlue. I think it’s foolish that we still have these restrictions in place and that we have no scheme for liberalization. We’ve seen it in automobiles from Asia, from Europe, being built in the U.S. I actually think we are harming the U.S. aviation industry by keeping these artificial standards in place. I am hopeful that we will see some rationalization between our two areas, the U.S. and EU.

Q: What are your comments on your fleet?

DB: We are lucky to have the Airbus A320 and the EMBRAER 190, and we love the A320 new engine option and anticipate our recently announce A321 aircraft order as well. But we will see; we always keep an eye on the different products that might be available.
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