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JetBlue hopes to get back to normal

A week after a snowstorm, the airline expects full operations today.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published February 20, 2007


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NEW YORK - The six-day siege of angry travelers at JetBlue's Kennedy Airport terminal appeared to ease on Monday as service desks functioned more smoothly and customer calm prevailed despite flight cancellations.

The beleaguered company said it canceled almost a quarter of its flights on Monday but planned to restore full operations today, a week after a snowstorm created a travel meltdown that virtually paralyzed JetBlue. On Monday, the airline flew its regular schedule at Tampa International Airport. It canceled two flights to Boston on both Saturday and Sunday.

The service breakdown "was absolutely painful to watch," said David Neeleman, the company's founder and CEO.

He said the storm problems led to other problems, including an overwhelmed reservations system and many of the pilots and crews being stuck away from where they were needed. The company didn't have a system to track the stranded crews and reroute them, something JetBlue is working to rectify, Neeleman said.

Sebastian White of JetBlue said Monday's cancellations helped make sure all crews had legally mandated amounts of rest and gave the airline the time to get equipment to the proper places.

One travel expert suggested the airline had brought the crisis on itself by trying to do the right thing for its passengers despite the wintry weather threat.

"Most airlines don't try to operate when there is an ice storm problem - they've learned that it's better to cancel all flights at the outset and then try to get back to normal operations as quickly as possible," said David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association.

Times staff writer Steve Huettel contributed to this report.

[Last modified February 20, 2007, 01:13:50]


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