Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Skip to content

Academy of Achievement David Neeleman

David Neeleman

Inducted 2007

David Neeleman founded JetBlue as Chief Executive Officer in 1998 and served in that role through May 2007. He currently serves as JetBlue’s Chairman of the Board, a position he has held since 2002, and is focused on developing the airline’s long-term vision and strategy.

David’s career in the airline industry 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 reservationist system that is now the foundation of JetBlue Airways’ unique call center: all calls to JetBlue’s reservation number are handled by reservationists working out of 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.

In 1999, after the conclusion of his five-year non-compete agreement with Southwest Airlines, David decided the time was right to bring his successful airline formula – innovative, high quality service plus low fares equals a strong and loyal market – to one of the country’s largest aviation markets, New York City by creating JetBlue Airways. He assembled a hand-picked management team of airline industry veterans and secured $130 million in capital funding from investors such as Weston Presidio Capital, George Soros and Chase Capital, now JP Morgan.

JetBlue began operations in February, 2000 from its base at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and now, more than seven years later, serves 54 destinations across the U.S and the Caribbean. By the end of 2007, JetBlue will operate a fleet of 105 Airbus A320 aircraft and 30 EMBRAER 190 aircraft.

JetBlue this year was ranked Top Low Cost Airline for Customer Satisfaction by J.D. Power and Associates and was also ranked Best Airline by Consumer Reports.

David lives with his wife Vicki and their nine children in Connecticut.