David Neeleman, chairman & CEO of JetBlue

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This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 21, 2001.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, will that $15 billion bailout be enough to help the industry and maybe our next? Joining us now is JetBlue chairman and CEO David Neeleman.

David, good to have you.


CAVUTO: Are you getting any of this money?

NEELEMAN: Yeah, we're getting some.

CAVUTO: How much?

NEELEMAN: Well, I think we're about 20 million in the cash portion and it would be double that amount for the other portion.

CAVUTO: So you, what do you do with it?

NEELEMAN: Well, I think what we do is help — you know, I think a little bit of a misnomer is that, you know, this is going to make the industry whole. And all it's going to try and do is try and get as close back to where we were on September 10th.

CAVUTO: Well, how close are you to that now? Where do you stand now versus...

NEELEMAN: Well, you know, we talked about people's, you know, fear of flying. And I think it's more than that. I think intellectually people understand, you know, they're safe and the chances of that happening again are very small, especially since people now know this kind of modus operandi, and the security checkpoints now, you can't even take tweezers onboard an airplane, all that kind of stuff.

But I think it's just that people aren't in the mood right now. They're just heartsick about this whole thing and they just...

CAVUTO: So you're seeing now your planes, which were virtually all full last time I checked, what are we running at now?

NEELEMAN: We're over 50 percent and it's improving every day. And you know, it's just going to take time, and we just have to give confidence, give great service. And we've always been, you know, a great airline.

CAVUTO: Yeah, you have all of these brand-new planes...


NEELEMAN: We were on September 10th and we will be on, you know, going forward. And...

CAVUTO: But, this is the one thing that sticking in my craw. How was it possible for four planes to be hijacked? How is it possible in this day and age, when we thought that was at least a long gone problem, that it happened? Four times?

NEELEMAN: Well, remember that prior to this, the blades they had, as near as I can tell, were legal to go through the checkpoint in security. Now, that's all changed now.

CAVUTO: So it's just a miracle it hadn't happened earlier.

NEELEMAN: But they got onboard the aircraft, and then it was a, you know, basically just a wrestling match. And it was horrible. I don't believe that will ever happen again.

I mean, we're going to fortify our cockpit doors and put armor on them all, that kind of stuff. But I don't believe that particular thing would ever happen. The passengers would be much more (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Remember that prior to this...

CAVUTO: Well, I think they would revolt now.

NEELEMAN: Yeah, but prior to this, remember the whole hijacking protocol was be cooperative. Be cooperative, you're going to be fine, and there was kind of like that thought.

CAVUTO: And no one thought that a plane would be used...

NEELEMAN: Yeah, no one thought it would be used as a missile. So now, the whole thought has changed. And it's like, OK, if a guy comes on with his bare hands, because he won't have a blade anymore — I'm confident of that — and he says, I'm going to hijack this with my hands, you're going to say, no, you're not.

CAVUTO: See, I worry, when people say that this kind of thing will never happen again, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sure about it, it makes you wonder.

NEELEMAN: No, I don't think anyone is sure about that. But I think the world has changed. Big time. And I think, you know, we have 285 million people that their awareness level has raised dramatically...

CAVUTO: Absolutely, you're right.

NEELEMAN: And I think it's changed and I think people just have to get comfortable. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they'll be back.

CAVUTO: David, very good seeing you again. David Neeleman, the JetBlue chairman and CEO.

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