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Neeleman Speaks -- Again -- On Righting JetBlue Wrongs

Tuesday, 20 Feb 2007 | 11:54 AM ET
David Neelemen
David Neelemen

History shows that outraged citizens tend to drive reforms -- fast. It's no different with publicly traded companies -- like JetBlue Airways. CEO David Neeleman returned to CNBC to explain how his company is adopting a "Bill of Rights" in an attempt to prevent last week's nightmare of delayed flights and stranded passengers from recurring.

Neeleman told "Squawk on the Street" that his firm will, in essence, "create SWAT teams" to isolate and quickly solve future logistics problems. This will hopefully circumvente a mess like the one on Valentine's Day, when an ice storm led to pile-ups in both incoming and outbound flights, stranded passengers inside planes for nearly 11 hours, and resulted in cancelled flights for several days.

Passenger Bill of Rights
One plane spends nine hours on the runway and the airline introduces a Passenger Bill of Rights, with David Neeleman, JetBlue Airways CEO and CNBC's Mark Haines & Melissa Lee

JetBlue's so-called Passenger Bill of Rights is along the lines of the one being pushed by Kate Hanni, chairwoman of the Coalition for Airline Passengers. The bill is geared to reassure fliers that JetBlue is still a "customer-service company" -- and, one imagines, is also intended to pre-empt Federally-enforced regulations, a la 1933 Hollywood taking heat off itself by by hiring Will Hayes to create an internal decency code.

The Bill includes such niceties as greater information sharing with passengers; more tools and resources for crew members; and yet-unnamed specific compensations for ticket-holders. "We have great systems," Neeleman told CNBC's Melissa Lee, "but we had a weakness -- and now, we're fixing that."

As to any earnings warnings, the CEO said that "hopefully" the costs will be contained in the first quarter. A new forecast for the company is being hashed out and will be in an 8-K filing shortly.

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