This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, January 31, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: David Neeleman is one of the few airline CEOs still smiling. His JetBlue Airways is soaring past the competition. The company said that fourth quarter earnings jumped 37 percent, while others are struggling to even turn a profit. And some are considering outright bankruptcy. No surprise then that rivals want to imitate that success. This week, Delta taking direct aim at JetBlue by announcing Song, its new low-cost carrier, the CEO is right here.
But is it a real threat, especially when United and others are considering doing the same thing? Joining me now in an exclusive interview, the guy who runs it, David Neeleman, the guy who runs JetBlue.
All right, are you worried?
DAVID NEELEMAN, CEO, JETBLUE AIRWAYS (JBLU): We have got such a great product, we have so many loyal customers. You know, our business note this year over last year, just in Florida is up 50 percent. You know, Song has talking about adding -- you know -- they already have flights, they are just going to replace it with new...
CAVUTO: Yes, but they are replacing it in your markets, right?
NEELEMAN: Yes, but they already fly in our markets, so they are just adding some additional planes, putting some new airplanes.
CAVUTO: Aren't they bigger planes?
NEELEMAN: Yes, a little bigger. I think it will be, I don't know, 12 percent increase in capacity.
CAVUTO: They say more more legroom, I should say, they are going to have all little TVs as well.
NEELEMAN: Yes, that's easy to say. You know, I mean, they can get in press conferences and say what they want, but, you know, we have a lot of loyal customers. People love flying on JetBlue, and we've grown a lot, and we have been real successful, if they get it right, there is a lot of business...
CAVUTO: But it would if United gets into this, and you've dealt with competition before, and you've handled it well thus far, but if United does it too -- I mean, at the very least, it causes a price war, right?
NEELEMAN: Yes, it does, but you know, part of the reason Delta is doing this is their fares are actually lower than ours are, so they're trying to get their fares up because they're losing so much money by trying to improve...
CAVUTO: And their overhead is higher, right?
NEELEMAN: Overhead's higher and fares are lower, so they are saying maybe if we can increase the amenities, we can start charging more, like JetBlue does, a little bit more, so, you know, it's a real tough game for them to try to play.
CAVUTO: It's a tough game for the economy, but you have done well despite it, but do you worry, though, that this lag and concern about flying really builds if we go to war with Iraq?
NEELEMAN: You know, I think we are kind of already at war in a sense. You know, the invasion of Afghanistan, and all the things that have been going on, I think we're just going to have to live with uncertainty.
CAVUTO: I know you often fly in your planes and just want to talk to the people on them, what do they tell you?
NEELEMAN: They say they like flying on JetBlue and they feel secure and they feel safe. You know, everyone's trying to figure out a reason why we are making money and no one else is. I think you even had someone on this show in December that said we were not paying for airplanes, which is quoting somebody else, you know, everybody has...
CAVUTO: Yes, we heard it, we later clarified that that was her opinion.
NEELEMAN: Yes, I know, but everybody tries to, you know, figure out...
CAVUTO: But you do pay for your airplanes, the new planes and all of that. So there is no -- there is always this fear that you aren't as good as you are.
NEELEMAN: Yes, but they always have a story -- I remember when Southwest first started making money, I heard the rumor that they owned a refinery and the refinery gave them free gas. You know, nobody can just admit that you have built a better mousetrap and you have a better product and people like flying you better.
CAVUTO: All right, David Neeleman, very good seeing you, thanks for sitting through all the breaking news today.
NEELEMAN: Oh, one more thing. I think we'll have FOX News on our planes, hopefully, soon. Everybody's chanting "Cavuto!" at 4 p.m., I'm getting tired of it.
CAVUTO: And get rid of CN -- something like that.
All right. David Neeleman.
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