Although cold snap cost airline millions, its operations at Bob Hope aren't affected.
By Chris Wiebe
BURBANK — A weather-related meltdown of JetBlue Airways' flight operations on the East Coast last week, which caused millions of dollars in lost revenues, will not inflict negative consequences on operations at the Bob Hope Airport, company officials said.
JetBlue's flight schedules returned to normal Tuesday after six days of flight cancellations resulting from an ice storm at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. The disruptions did not hit Burbank, but grounded flights to and from 11 cities, including Pittsburgh, Pa.; Portland, Maine; and Richmond, Va.
Company officials reported that 23% of JetBlue's flights had been canceled during the three-day President's Day weekend, prompting an apology from company CEO David Neeleman.
"Words cannot express how truly sorry we are for the anxiety, frustration and inconvenience that you, your family, friends and colleagues experienced," he said. "This is especially saddening because JetBlue was founded on the promise of bringing humanity back to air travel and making the experience of flying happier and easier for everyone who chooses to fly with us. We know we failed to deliver on this promise last week."
In spite of revenue losses incurred over the past week, company officials have no intentions of cutting back on their flight schedules, JetBlue spokesman Bryan Baldwin said.
"There are absolutely no plans to alter our operations at this point," he said.
Instead, officials are revamping support mechanisms within the company in order to be prepared to handle a similar crisis in the event that one occurs, he said. That includes developing back-up systems that will allow employees to instantly obtain additional support if operations are thrown into disarray.
"If anything like this were ever to take place again, we don't want to have another six-day impact," he said.
In addition, company officials have a crafted a "Customer Bill of Rights," which, among other things, promises a full refund for flight cancellations due to circumstances that are within the company's control, he said. For flights that are canceled within 12 hours of scheduled departure, customers will also receive a voucher for future travel that is of equal value to their purchased round-trip fare.
"The Bill of Rights outlines very specific details to keep us accountable," Baldwin said.
JetBlue expanded its presence at Bob Hope Airport during 2006, tacking on a fifth daily flight to New York City and adding Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla., to its destinations.
But in November 2006, JetBlue officials pulled their Las Vegas and Orlando flights, indicating that they were not receiving the customer response they wanted, said Bob Hope Airport spokesman Victor Gill.
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