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David G. Neeleman
Born October 16, 1959 (1959-10-16) (age 50)
São Paulo,  Brazil
Occupation CEO Azul Airlines Brazil, Founder & former chairman, JetBlue Airways
Religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Spouse(s) Vicki Neeleman

David G. Neeleman (born October 16, 1959) is the founder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways and also founder of Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras.



Neeleman, Brazilian-born United States-based on Dutch and North American descent, was born in São Paulo.[1] 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 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[2]

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. Then when Morris Air was acquired by Southwest Airlines for $130 million in 1993, he worked for a short time on their Executive Planning Committee.

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.

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 fall on hard times.[3]

On May 10, 2007, David Neeleman was replaced by Dave Barger as CEO of JetBlue[4] and on May 21, 2008 he was replaced as chairman of the board by Joel Peterson.[5]

On March 27, 2008 Neeleman officially announced plans to launch a new airline, Azul (Portuguese for "blue"), a domestic carrier in Brazil. Neeleman asked to step down as the Chairman of the Board from JetBlue Airways to spend time starting this new venture, which he did in 2009. Also in 2009, the governor of the Brazilian state Rio de Janeiro, Sérgio Cabral Filho was against the opening of Santos Dumont Airport for new flights. When Azul got the legal permission to fly from there, Cabral Filho called Neeleman "liar gringo"[6]


Neeleman lives with his wife Vicki in New Canaan, CT. They are the parents of nine children.[7] In 2000, he disclosed to CNN that he has Adult attention-deficit disorder.[8]

He is the 2005 recipient of the Tony Jannus Award for outstanding leadership in the commercial aviation industry.[9]

He speaks fluent Portuguese and holds both U.S. and Brazilian citizenship.


External links



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