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JetBlue founder denies rumors of bid for former airline

Most companies do not blame their CEOs when it comes to natural events. After all, if business stops because of the weather, most people understand that this is out of the hands of even the most involved manager. But that didn't appear to be the case six years ago when JetBlue Airways fired its chief executive officer David Neeleman three months after the blizzard that closed down much of New York, including a majority of air travel as well.

But since his firing from JetBlue, Neeleman has made a name for himself in Brazil after starting a new airline called Azul. According to Neeleman, his ousting from JetBlue came at the right time, though he admits he is still ruffled by the decision. His firing came at a time when Neeleman says leadership was failing. He says he noticed a need in the Brazilian market for affordable air travel and went for it.

Though Azul has had to delay the release of its initial public offering in Brazil because of market turmoil, Neeleman says the company is doing quite well. But not well enough, Neeleman says, to buy back the company from which he was fired. Rumors have been swirling for some time now after a Brazilian newspaper announced that Neeleman was assembling an investment fund to acquire TAP, a financially ailing Portuguese airline, and JetBlue. But as Neeleman explained in a recent interview, these are only rumors and speculations.

While he has hopes that his entrepreneurial endeavors in Brazil will one day make his new airline a major international competitor, he says he has no plans to buy back JetBlue nor does he think Azul is ready for long-haul flights beyond Brazil at this time.  At this time, he wants to focus on getting the company's IPO ready so that he can finally provide a return on his investors.

Source: The Bloomberg Businessweek, "JetBlue Founder Has No Interest in Buying His Old Airline," Justin Bachman, June 28, 2013

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