The story of David Neeleman and his Airlines

On this day, October 16 in the year 1959, one of the so-called lords of the sky was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil. His name is David Neeleman, the founder or co-founder of five airlines namely Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, Azul Brazil, and Jetsuite.

David Neeleman
David Neeleman (Credit:

David Neeleman was the son of a journalist and author. He is a member of Mormon Church and was an alumnus of the University of Utah. In 1984, he and June Morris founded Morris Air with its hub in Salt Lake City, Utah. He became an executive of Southwest Airlines after it merged with Morris air in 1994. In 1996, he co-founded WestJet Airlines that would later become the second biggest airlines in Canada.

Meanwhile, when the 5-year non-compete term of the merger of Southwest and Morris Air expired in 1999, he set up JetBlue as a budget airline that operated from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. To differentiate it from other airlines, he put up a television set on every seat – the first in the industry to do so. Due to its focus on delivering quality service to its customers, the operation became profitable and the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2002.

In 2007, David Neeleman was unceremoniously removed from his position as CEO of JetBlue after the company suffered losses and encountered problems in its operations. The following year, he founded Azul as a domestic carrier in Brazil. In 2010, he led a group that purchased Jetsuite, a chartered airline that operated in the west coast of the United States. In 2015, he was part of a consortium that took control of TAP Air, the flag carrier of Portugal.

David Neeleman has 9 children with his wife Vicki. At present, Jetblue is one of the largest airlines in the United States.


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