Year Founded:

1999

First Flight:

Feb. 11, 2000 from New York to Buffalo.

Core Business:

Low-fare passenger airline

Revenues in 2000:

$105.2 million

Net Loss in 2000:

$15.8 million

Revenues in 1st Qtr. 2001:

$63.8 million

Net Income in 1st Qtr. 2001:

$4.5 million

Employees:

1,700

Goal:

To provide low-fare airline service to underserved markets and major destinations

Young Airline Believes Long Beach Airport Will Attract Loyal Cross-Country Travelers

David Neeleman knew he had a winner when he first saw the nearly empty terminal at Long Beach Airport, a facility that for decades has been living in the shadow of LAX up the road.

With only nine departure gates, $3 a day parking a short walk away, and a compact 50-year-old Art Deco terminal, the facility would make a perfect West Coast hub for his upstart JetBlue Airways. So starting Aug. 28, Long Beach becomes JetBlue's 16th destination with twice-a-day flights to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

"There are 6 million people who live as close to Long Beach as any other airport," said the 41-year-old Neeleman, who started Salt Lake City-based Morris Air in 1984 and sold it nine years later to Southwest Airlines. "When people pull up to the airport and pay the $3-a-day rate for parking and go from the curb to the plane in two minutes, I think the whole experience is going to be bring some loyal customers."

JetBlue already has a number of loyal East Coast customers since it launched its first flights early last year from its JFK hub to upper New York state and Florida.

Currently it serves 15 destinations from the East Coast with 76 flights a day. And it is turning a profit. While the company posted a $15 million net loss last year, during its first 10 months of operation it had a $4.5 million net profit for its first quarter ended March 31, according to Department of Transportation filings. It is one of the best-capitalized small carriers in U.S. history, with $160 million in funds from various institutions and billionaire financier George Soros.

Choosing New York as its initial destination out of Long Beach likely will help the bottom line, considering the transcontinental route is one of the busiest in the airline industry. With JetBlue's fares on that route ranging from $129 to $299 each way, flying to New York will be more affordable for passengers used to ticket prices that can reach as high as $2,400 roundtrip for coach.

Prev

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.