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David Neeleman


David Neeleman

David G. Neeleman
Born (1959-10-16) October 16, 1959
São Paulo, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian and American
Occupation CEO Azul Brazilian Airlines
Known for Commercial airline entrepreneur
Religion Latter-Day Saint
Children 9

David G. Neeleman (born October 16, 1959) is a Brazilian-American[1] entrepreneur who has founded four commercial airlines, Morris Air, Westjet, JetBlue Airways and Azul Brazilian Airlines.


  • Biography 1
  • Personal 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Neeleman was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and raised in Miami, United States, to a family of Dutch and North American descent. He lived in Brazil until he was five.[2] 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 the Northeast Region of Brazil.[3]

He co-founded (with June Morris) Morris Air, a low-fare charter airline, and from 1984 to 1988, he was executive vice president of the company. In 1988 Neeleman assumed the helm of Morris Air as its president. In 1993, when Morris Air was acquired by Southwest Airlines for $130 million (Neeleman received $25 million from the sale), he worked for 5 months on their Executive Planning Committee.[4]

After leaving Southwest, Neeleman became the CEO of Open Skies, a touch screen airline reservation and check-in systems company, later acquired by HP in 1999. At the same time, he helped with another upstart airline, WestJet. JetBlue was incorporated in Delaware in August 1998 and officially founded in February 1999, under the name "NewAir" by Neeleman.[5]

As the CEO of JetBlue Airways, his 2002 salary was $200,000 with a bonus of $90,000. Neeleman donated his entire salary to the JetBlue Crewmember Crisis Fund, which was established for JetBlue employees who had fallen on hard times.[6]

On May 10, 2007, David Neeleman was replaced by David Barger (born 1959) as CEO of JetBlue[7] and on May 21, 2008 he was replaced as chairman of the board by Joel Peterson.[8]

On March 27, 2008 Neeleman officially announced plans to launch a new airline, Azul (Portuguese for "blue"), a domestic carrier in Brazil. Azul will complete 2013 with over 5 Billion in sales and currently stands as Brazil's third largest airline.

On October 30, 2013 Neeleman and his youngest brother Mark James Neeleman, a cofounder of Azul,[9] announced the launch of a new company, Vigzul, a home security and monitoring company. Vigzul came from an idea of Mark Neeleman and was founded by David Allred, Brett Chambers and Neeleman serves as Chairman of the board and principal investor. [10][11]


Neeleman lives with his family in New Canaan, Connecticut, United States. He is the father of ten children.[12][13] In 2000, he disclosed to CNBC that he has adult attention-deficit disorder.[14] He is the 2005 recipient of the Tony Jannus Award for outstanding leadership in the commercial aviation industry.[15] He also speaks fluent Portuguese and holds both U.S. and Brazilian citizenship.

Neelman has said that in the early years of JetBlue, he always sat in the last row in a seat that did not recline, to demonstrate that "pleasing the customer was more important than pleasing the chief executive."[16][17]


  1. ^ "David Neeleman's Return Trip: Extended Q&A". 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  2. ^ Sellers, Patricia (July 26, 2010). "The Next JetBlue: What's David Neeleman Doing Starting a New Airline in Brazil? Setting Records, For One Thing".  
  3. ^ "David Neeleman". World Public Library. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  4. ^ "JetBlue Airways Corporation - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on JetBlue Airways Corporation". Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  5. ^ "JetBlue". JetBlue. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  6. ^ Wade, James B.; O'Reilly III, Charles A.; Pollock, Timothy G. (September–October 2006). "Overpaid CEOs and Underpaid Managers: Fairness and Executive Compensation". Organization Science 17 (5): 527.  
  7. ^ Schlangenstein, Mary (2007-05-10). "JetBlue Air Names Barger to Succeed Neeleman as Chief (Update9)". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  8. ^ Shwiff, Kathy (May 21, 2008). "JetBlue Solidifies Succession Plan".  
  9. ^ "Época NEGÓCIOS - EDT MATERIA IMPRIMIR - Há algo de novo no ar". 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  10. ^ "Mark Neeleman (AZUL & VIGZUL)". Startup Grind. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  11. ^ "Dono da Azul lança empresa de segurança e investe R$ 100 milhões | Valor Econômico". 2013-10-30. Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  12. ^ "TBR Board of Directors: David Neeleman, Chief Executive Officer, jetBlue Airways". Travel Business Roundtable. Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2007-05-07. 
  13. ^ Souccar, Miriam Kreinin (4 October 2015). "The Rise of the Outrageously Long Commute". The Atlantic. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  14. ^ "Oklahoma's Largest Health Network: Oklahoma City Hospitals - INTEGRIS OK". Retrieved 2015-03-09. 
  15. ^ "David Neeleman, Founder of JetBlue Airlines – Career without a Degree". Claudia Fox. March 21, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2015. 
  17. ^ Pae, Peter (11 May 2007). "JetBlue changes CEO, may move in new direction". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 

External links

  • Speaking at Stanford
  • Forbes Person
  • David Neeleman Interview
  • Q&A with Inc. Magazine
  • There's Something New in the Air
  • Owner of Azul Launches Home Security Company
  • Founders of Azul Create Monitoring Company
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