Listen now to an encore of The Business Beat, as Steve Jones-D'Agostino, strategic partner of Susan Wagner PR + Best Rate of Climb, interviews Dave Barger, president and CEO of JetBlue Airways. They talk about why JetBlue launched service out of Worcester. This episode aired originally on November 10, 2013.
On April 3, 2013, JetBlue announced the newest addition to its growing network: Worcester. Service to the airline's 80th city took flight on November 7, 2013, with daily service to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida.
As a leading air-passenger service, with hubs in Boston, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood, Orlando, Los Angeles, New York City and San Juan, JetBlue carries 29 million customers a year to 79 cities in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America. Upcoming destinations include Savannah, Georgia; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Lima, Peru, subject to receipt of government approval; and on November 7, Worcester.
With JetBlue, all seats on its more than 600 daily flights are assigned, all fares are one-way, and an overnight stay is never required. JetBlue's fleet totals 188 aircraft, comprising 129 Airbus A320s and 59 Embraer E190s.
Barger was part of JetBlue's founding team and serves on the company’s Board of Directors. His interest in airlines came from his father, who was a United Airlines pilot for 37 years. From 1982 to 1988, Dave served in several positions with New York Air. In 1992, he joined Continental Airlines and held various management positions, including vice president of Continental's hub at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Barger was part of the JetBlue founding team in 1998, and served as the COO for Jet Blue until 2007. During the airline's first months of operation, when a JetBlue plane was forced to divert en route so that a diabetic passenger could receive emergency care, he personally apologized to each passenger for the delay, and offered a free flight as compensation.
Following a 2007 incident in which the airline was forced to cancel nearly 1,700 flights due to winter storms, JetBlue's Board of Directors replaced David Neeleman with Barger as CEO. Neeleman, the company's largest individual investor, became a non-executive chairman as a result of the change. In 2009, Barger also became the president of JetBlue.
JetBlue is an official sponsor of the Boston Reds Sox, the Boston Bruins and the Worcester Sharks, a minor-league hockey team affiliated with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.