JetBlue asks CEO Neeleman to step down

At the request of JetBlue Airways Corp., founder David Neeleman has stepped down from his position as CEO.

He was replaced by president Dave Barger.

“David’s talents are entrepreneurial, and therefore perfect for the Chairman position, which will free his time and energy from day-to-day operations to identify creative opportunities and focus on the broader scope and direction of the company,” said Alison Eshelman, manager of corporate communications at JetBlue Airways, New York. “This move is a natural evolution as the company grows from a start-up to a major player.”

Mr. Neeleman’s removal comes three months after JetBlue faced bad press because of an operational breakdown at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport that left hundreds of passengers stuck on planes for up to 12 hours.

Shortly after the breakdown, JetBlue released its “Customer Bill of Rights” to compensate customers inconvenienced by service disruptions within JetBlue’s control.

Mr. Barger will retain his responsibilities as president. Mr. Neeleman, JetBlue’s founder/CEO since 1998, will serve JetBlue as non-executive chairman.

Mr. Neeleman founded JetBlue in 1998 and became chairman in 2002. Mr. Barger joined JetBlue in August 1998 as president and chief operating officer.

The airline first took flight in February 2000.

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