JetBlue founder on the airline industry

JetBlue founder David Neeleman in a wide-ranging interview discusses flights to Cuba and Portugal, the impact of cheap gas and the race for the White House.

JetBlue Founder Flying New U.S.- Portugal Route

By Business Leaders

JetBlue (JBLU) founder David Neeleman, who is now CEO of Brazilian airline Azul and is also a part-owner of TAP Portugal, is rolling out a new trans-Atlantic route. During an interview on the FOX Business Network’s Cavuto: Coast to Coast, he says he is simply filling a void.

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“Portugal serves 11 cities from Lisbon to Brazil so there are a lot of synergies there. And I looked at the service and said wow you hardly have anything in the United States.”

This new travel route says Neeleman, can save travelers money.

“So flying across Lisbon and staying there, we have free stopovers and then going onto Nice or Venice. So it’s a perfect way to go to Europe very inexpensively.”

Flights begin to/from Boston in June and New York in July. Neeleman’s new route could experience some headwinds due to the Zika virus as well as the country’s softening economy.

“It’s [Brazil] going through a rough time, no doubt about it,” Neeleman said. “The government has to step it up… what hurt us is the exchange rate, because a lot of our costs are dollar-denominated and the exchange almost went from four to one. The investors’ money was 1.6 to one, now it’s at four to one.”

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He added, “You have a softening economy; you can’t raise your fares to compensate for that. The advantage of falling fuel, because we buy it in dollars, doesn’t really help us that much. It’s challenging, but Brazil has to get its house in order. There has been corruption. They have to fix some of the stuff.”

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