Following the February 2007 incident in which the airline was forced to cancel nearly 1,700 flights due to winter storms, jetBlue's board of directors replaced founder and Chief Executive Officer David Neeleman with Dave Barger.[21] He had politicked the board, while Neeleman was busy publicly apologizing. Barger's ascendancy caused widespread demoralization in the ranks.[22] He became JetBlue's new Chief Executive Officer on May 10, 2007.[23] Neeleman, the company's founder and largest individual investor, became a nonexecutive chairman as a result of the change.[24]
While its financial performance started showing signs of improvement, in February 2007, jetBlue faced a crisis, when a snowstorm hit the Northeast and Midwest, throwing the airline's operations into chaos. Because jetBlue followed the practice of never cancelling flights, it desisted from calling flights off, even when the ice storm hit and the airline was forced to keep several planes on the ground. Because of this, passengers were kept waiting at the airports for their flights to take off. In some cases, passengers who had already boarded their planes were kept waiting on the apron for several hours and were not allowed to disembark. However, after all this, the airline was eventually forced to cancel most of its flights because of prevailing weather conditions.[17] The fiasco reportedly cost JetBlue $30 million.[18]
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