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JetBlue founder takes flight on 5th airline start-up

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David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways, Morris Air (which was bought by Southwest Airlines), Canada’s WestJet and Brazil’s Azul,is launching a fifth airline, one that will be based in the United States and allegedly uses the name Moxy Airlines. Well, if this isn’t moxie as the airline entrepreneur sets out again to rattle the aviation world.

According to aviation people at the Farnborough Airshow familiar with the industry, Neeleman’s investors group made a commitment with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus to buy 60 A220-300 jets, with deliveries to begin in 2021. Ironic that his original company JetBlue also made a purchase of the same model jets to modernize their fleet.

Its press release included a statement from Neeleman. “After years of U.S. airline consolidation, the conditions are improving for a new generation of U.S. airline to emerge, focused on passenger service and satisfacti­on,” Neeleman said. It should be noted that only the “US airline” words were used. Apparently the competition is Europe with low-cost is not a factor here in the US when it comes to his plans. Also helpful is the recent consolidation of Virgin America and Alaska Air leaving a little room for other low cost competition. How he will find slots and airports to take his airline will be closely watched; maybe MacArthur in Long Island or Stewart International in upstate NY?

It comes at a time that every major U.S. airline is making money, and the industry has not lost money in almost a decade. Airport traffic is expected to expand greatly in the next 20 years and infrastructure spending is on the rise in NY airports.

One source reported that the startup airline has the working name of Moxy, and has $100 million in startup capital. It said other investors led by Neeleman include former Air Canada CEO Robert Milton, who recently stepped down as chairman of United Airlines’ board, and former International Lease Finance Corp. (an aircraft lessor) CEO Henri Courpron.

That and other media reports say the airline aims to serve smaller markets with point-to-point flights rather than routing them through connecting hubs.

He co-founded (with June Morris) Morris Air in Utah, which was sold to Southwest. He then founded WestJet in Canada in 1994.

He launched JetBlue in 1999 as a New York City-based, low-cost airline. But he located most of its reservations and customer service operations in Utah where soccer moms were a good job pool.

Also since 2015, Neeleman has been co-owner of TAP Portugal airline, leading a consortium of investors who privatized the debt-ridden, government-owned airline. Under his leadership, the airline has been trying to make Portugal Europe’s newest gateway.

Posted 12:00 am, August 11, 2018
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