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Structure, Culture & Leadership

Categories: AviationLeadership


JetBlue airlines came in to existence back in 2000, when the airline business, particularly, was in dire shackles. Customers were considering air travel not only as inefficient but also unaffordable and uncomfortable. In this state of consumer distrust, David neelman along with a group of 10 leaders of different fields initiated the JetBlue air line project, with a start up capital of only $130 million. The aim was to bring “humanity back to air travel” (JetBlue Airways, 2008). Their strategy was based on providing ultimate satisfaction to their customer, with low-fare and technologically advanced services.

The JetBlue culture was the first of its kind and in its case study a merging of efficient leadership qualities coupled with a productive structure emerge as the key points of its success.


As it is mentioned above, JetBlue was a venture initiated by a group of 10 different people, all experienced in the air line industry and master of their trade. Neelman was accompanied by Thomas Kelly, Dave Barfer, John Owens and Ann Rhoades.

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The remaining management team comprised of marketing executives who had ample experience at Virgin Atlantic (JetBlue Airways, 2008). The advantage to JetBlue of having these highly experienced officers was not only confined to articulate ideas but the geographical expanse of its management team ended up complementing the JetBlue structure by having offices at various districts across the country. All these people were gathered together to work on an air line which not only helped them in bringing to reality what they had envisaged regarding customer comfort, but also launch one of the most competitive and successful start up companies in the states.

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Thus JetBlue stood up as an emblem of versatility and diversity.


The experience and meticulous management team with the expertise of an intellectual CEO, JetBlue was able to maximize profits at the time of its launch, in contrast to other companies who were suffering a major loss. This was all due to the proper planning of the team; their observations and analysis with regards to customer behavior, destination traffic and other company rates. After setting up the headquarters at Newyork city, the team calculated the aforementioned details, keeping in view what they could offer. The most crucial decision here was choosing the right aircraft, harmonizing with the budget. Since the vision of its founder was to create the first ever paperless air plane service, the Airbus A320 was purchased. (Gittell and O’Reilly, 2001, Pp 1) Not only did the computerized system made uploading and checking maintenance logs efficient. Also, every pilot was provided his own laptop to do the pre-flight check up. Due to this computerized system, not only did the extra labor force was cut down but efficiency and accuracy was also reached with an added advantage of less hassle and less paperwork to cater to. Furthermore, as JetBlue had the same aircraft for all its flights, maintenance cost were minimal, scheduling issues and repair delays were also handled effectively.

The biggest challenge that JetBlue faced was to continue with the same meticulous and satisfactory services they had initiated the company with. For this the most important element was to involve all the employees and work in the form of a team. The structural edge of JetBlue was the absence of worker unions, due to which all the employees worked together in the form of a team and of course that encouraged healthy relationship between all the workers. How JetBlue sustained employee loyalty was through the sharing of their profits. In addition to this employees were given fringe benefits suiting their needs. Every worker had his own customized beneficiary program rather than the demeaning generalized one given after a probation period. This was the mastermind of Rhoades, a distinct mind in the management team. (Gittell and O’Reilly, 2001, Pp1)

Furthermore, since JetBlue was all about productive integration of technology, JetBlue had no central reservation system. In fact, all of its agents worked from the comfort of home from their laptops. The benefits of the internet were effectively used. Not only did the customers have to wait in long quos to get their ticket, but also through the computerized system they could get all the information they wanted from the comfort of their homes. Another benefit that JetBlue provided its customers was with the refund or bonus if the flight got delayed or canceled due to some error on the company’s part. In addition to this, JetBlue concentrated on efficient service for their customers, with a personalized JETV, more leg space, no congestion between any of the seats and great services (JetBlue Airways, 2008).


With this said, lets concentrate on how the JetBlue culture came in to existence. As Rhoades has described the values of the airline company as “safety, caring, integrity, fun, passion”. (Gittell and O’Reilly, 2001, Pp9) The first airline with the customer bill of rights, the JetBlue culture pays a considerable amount of importance to the aforementioned values. Safety for the customers, their luggage etc is given a high priority. Perhaps to reduce the risk of ticket loss, JetBlue has computerized its ticketing system as well. Technology is being integrated to serve the values the airline was built up on.

Even while hiring new staff for the airline, as that has been the case for every year 10 new airbuses are introduced with a renewed need for work force, the question of integrity and dedication is a pivotal one in the interview process. (Jet Blue Airways, 2008)   Work force honestly, humbleness and dedication is considered the first step towards being a part of the JetBlue team.

In today’s highly competitive market, for JetBlue to maintain its culture it would have to pay a lot of heed to the operational structure as the concentration of the work force will increase every year. To maintain the same harmony with which they created the team wok environment and made the JetBlue employment an invaluable experience, jet blue would have to maintain the operational strategy based on technologically active system, with the same fringe benefits that surpassed industry standards in the past. Unorganized labor force would be a fatal threat to JetBlue’s culture and values, which had the biggest hand in the success of this airline in the time of serious recession.


Gittell, H. Jody and O’Reilly, A. Charles (2001) JetBlue Airways: Starting from Scratch

Published by Harvard Business School Pub. Pp1-9

Jet Blue Airways (2008) Jet Blue Airways. Retrieved from:


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Structure, Culture & Leadership. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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