“Davie Neeleman Reinvents Airlines”
"As long as we can delight our customers, there's plenty of business for us" (BW Online, 2003) states David Neeleman, CEO of JetBlue, a small airline that serves mostly the eastern U.S. seaboard and is fast expanding to the western United States.
Neeleman, a creative entrepreneur, has successfully navigated turbulent times with a no-layoffs strategy and expansion plans that target routes that other airlines drop. With more than 6,000 employees and 57 planes, the company continues its steady growth (Salter, 2004a).
JetBlue’s small size, young fleet, and emphasis on teamwork allow for quick decisions and implementation. Top executives and managers consistently interact with employees and customers, to listen and get feedback from them to keep addressing their concerns (Salter, 2004a). The attention to employees and customers has earned JetBlue high ratings and its CEO awards for being a visionary.
What are the key elements of Jet Blue and Azul’s culture?
Programs such as generous profit sharing, excellent benefits, open communication, and extensive training, all get the right employees in the company and retain them.
Neeleman provides the vision, but he also knows to listen to his people who, on occasion, veto his decisions. Neeleman takes it in stride and says, "I'm being totally deferential and patient. ... It's because I think the situation demands it. I have to trust the instincts of the people around me" (Judge, 2001, p. 131).
The emphasis on employees and teamwork permeates every aspect of the company. Neeleman explains, "If you treat people well, the company's philosophy goes, they'll treat the customer well."
The senior vice president of operations echoes the focus on people: "There is no 'they' here. It's 'we' and 'us'" (Salter, 2004a). "We select the best people, but we do...