Neeleman Realizes He Is a Day-to-Day Operator After All

Do you remember David Neeleman’s ouster from JetBlue last year? He seemed happy to put a positive spin on it then:

Neeleman, JetBlue’s largest individual investor, will be non-executive chairman. "I’m not a day-to-day operator," Neeleman, 47, said today in an interview. "It’s not something I enjoyed."

He’s changed his tune now, though.

So what’s it like to be fired from your own company? It’s horrible. It’s something you could never imagine happening to you. It’s not something you’d ever want to wish on anybody–that’s for sure.

Why are you leaving now? My best days were when I was out on the road, serving customers, hanging out in the back galley with crew members. That’s the reason I’m starting an airline in Brazil.

The latter seems to have more believability than the former. But I suspect the real reason that Neeleman’s leaving now is exactly the same as the real reason he was fired as CEO: the stock price.

A year ago, when he was fired, JetBlue was trading at $10.89 per share, down 24% from the depressed levels at which it opened the year. Today, JetBlue is trading at $4.58 per share, down 23% from the depressed levels at which it opened the year. Notice a pattern?

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