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JetBlue CEO On Lufthansa

Germany’s biggest airline, Lufthansa, said Thursday it is paying $300 million for a 19% stake in JetBlue Airways in its first foray into the U.S. airline market. Is there a trade here?

First on Fast Money, JetBlue Chief Executive Dave Barger talks about the deal. Following is a synopsis of his main points.

When do you get the first big payout from this deal?

"The first benefit was Thursday, in this affirmation from Lufthansa," replies Barger.

But talk about the money?

"Lufthansa approached JetBlue and it’s simply a financial transaction of 19% equity (for) $300 million dollars in proceeds," he explains.

What will you do with the money?

"It will be used for day to day operations of the airline," Barger says. "It’s not targeted to a specific area but with fuel at $90 plus dollars a barrel – and (uncertainty in) the economy – this is something that’s very positive for JetBlue."

How about the winter storm cycle?

"We’re solid. We have a lot of lessons learned from earlier in the year," Barger says. "I feel very good about our operations in the Northeast."

Can you differentiate yourself enough on customer service?

"We can, and at the end of the day we have a renowned brand," Barger says. "Also we’re looking to off-set the cost of fuel. It’s our number one cost. So we believe that by differentiating the product and taking care of our customers that we’ll see better revenue."

Did you sell because of capital concerns?

"Not the case," Barger replies. "Lufthansa approached us.. and with some of the unknowns of our industry – that was the motivation (for the deal)."

Might Lufthansa take a larger stake in JetBlue?

"Not a further stake, per say. In the US, the Department of Transportation regulates foreign ownership of US carriers," says Barger. "They’re limited to just under 25% of voting shares."

> Read more:"JetBlue to Sell 19% Stake to German Airline Lufthansa"

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