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Jetblue's Burger contemplates B-787

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Honey Ryder
Feb 26, 2004
Says his airline is somehow immune from service issues.

JetBlue CEO sees benefit in big-airline mergers
Dave Barger thinks the carrier will gain customers because of the service lapses that tend to accompany colossal tie-ups in the industry.
July 26, 2010|Julie Johnsson
JetBlue Airways Corp. is the kind of well-run niche airline that is supposed to get wiped out by the deal-making frenzy involving large network carriers such as United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc.

Instead, JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger, 52, is on the prowl for opportunities to expand his low-cost carrier amid the market tumult.

Barger thinks JetBlue will gain customers because of the service lapses that tend to accompany colossal airline mergers. After all, the 10-year-old airline just survived one of the worst decades in aviation history by connecting with travelers through its friendly workers, brand-new planes and perks such as free satellite television, greater leg room and unlimited snacks.

"If the industry ends up with, say, three network carriers (from today's five), there's going to be plenty of space for the JetBlues of the world," Barger in an interview at his company's cramped offices at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

While larger competitors are tabling growth plans, Barger is strategizing on how to extend JetBlue's reach throughout the Americas, even contemplating ordering next-generation wide-body jets including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to handler longer flights.

But the challenge he faces is illustrated at O'Hare, where the nation's No. 7 carrier remains a minor player three years after it entered the Chicago market. As JetBlue's Chicago following grows, Barger would like to add more cross-county flights to California and eventually branch into tourist destinations in Florida and the Caribbean.

"We're a pretty rare bird," Barger said. "There are only a couple of airlines that flew into a second decade as a stand-alone brand."

Yet the next 10 years could be as tough for Barger to navigate as the post-millennial era's terrorist attacks, oil spikes and recessions. The consolidation underway makes the topsy-turvy airline market almost impossible to read.

To gain customers, JetBlue must differentiate itself from other carriers, analysts said. Trouble is, its quirky offerings and friendly service don't seem as startlingly unconventional as they did when the carrier was launched in 2000.

JetBlue's prices are frequently on par with those of network carriers. Virgin America, a California-based copycat launched in 2007, offers newer planes and hipper amenities: groovy mood lighting and touch-screen ordering off a menu offering marinated duck salads, mojitos and other nontraditional airline fare.
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JB just got the 5 yr lease on T6 (our old term next to T5) it will be bulldozed starting in Sept and a JB pad for a few years then we will build a International term conected to T5. These are hard plan and legal has the leases and will be signed in 2 weeks. PS. its 22 acre parcel of land....good sized.
"Burger"?? Is he related to Dave Barger? Probably not since they spell and pronounce their names differently.
JB has a number of advantages. It has great passenger feed through JFK and BOS. It has a solid foothold in the NY market (i.e., big business market) and it basically controls BOS. It has new terminals with more gates to come in the future in its hubs. It also has relationships with European airlines like Lufthansa and I believe Air Lingus.

And yet, I wonder if Barger has the BALLS to order 787s. C'mon, the margin for US domestic flying is compressing with the various LCC operators - especially on the East Coast (i.e., NY to Florida) with JB, SWA, Airtran and Spirit offering cheap seats. You simply can't make that much money with that level of competition. International flying (especially to emerging markets like Brazil) provides a better opportunity to capture profits. Obviously, financing costs (or leasing costs with ILFC) and traning/maintenance costs are huge considerations, but JB has learned how to incorporate a new fleet type (i.e., E190) into the overall fleet. I'd think that the order for 787s would have to include 20+ aircraft to be worth it from a cost standpoint (i.e., integrating a new fleet type).

C'mon Barger - get some big BALLS and join the international widebody flying club!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Why would JB do WB flying? SA and AMR are poised to do it... and LH is standing by....... JB is being groomed as a feeder....
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