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David Neeleman  

Former CEO of JetBlue Airways & Founder of Moxy

David Neeleman is a Brazilian-American entrepreneur who has founded four commercial airlines, Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue Airways and Azul Brazilian Airlines. He is also the co-owner of another commercial airline in Europe, TAP Air Portugal, along with Humberto Pedrosa and Aigle Azur.

An American of Dutch descent, Neeleman was born in Brazil. He attended Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, and attended the University of Utah for three years before dropping out. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Together with June Morris, Neeleman co-founded charter airline Morris Air in 1984. He served as an Executive Vice President until 1988 and the President of Morris Air Corporation until 1994. Morris Air was acquired by Southwest Airlines for $130 million in 1993. For a brief period, he worked on the Executive Planning Committee at Southwest.

After leaving Southwest, Neeleman became the Chief Executive Officer of Open Skies, a touch screen airline reservation and check-in systems company, acquired by Hewlett Packard in 1999. At the same time, he helped with another upstart airline, Westjet.

In 2000, Neeleman launched JetBlue, a New York-based boutique airline, now valued at more than $5 billion. As the CEO of JetBlue Airways, his 2002 salary was $200,000 with a bonus of $90,000. Neeleman donated his entire salary to a catastrophe fund which had been established for JetBlue employees who fall on hard times. He was replaced by Dave Barger as CEO of JetBlue in 2007.

Neeleman went on to launch Azul Brazilian Airlines in his country of birth in 2008, and he became the co-owner of Portugal’s national airline, TAP Air Portugal in 2015. In 2019, Neeleman is on track to launch a new U.S. low-cost carrier. With the code name “Moxy”, the airline plans to begin operations in early 2021. According to CNN Traveler, Moxy will use the new Airbus A220-300 – starting with an order of 60 jets.


JetBlue founder launches 'world's nicest airline'

Twenty years after launching JetBlue from an office building in Queens, New York, its founder has filed plans to launch a new airline with flights starting by year's end. Breeze Airways, which has applied for an airline operating certificate with the US Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, is actually founder David Neeleman's fifth airline start-up. Besides JetBlue, he's also launched Morris Air, WestJet and Azul.

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