Airline faces cancellation storm

Low-cost carrier JetBlue cancels more flights hours after CEO apologises for service breakdown.

    David Neeleman, JetBlue's CEO,  blamed problems on an inferior communication system [EPA]

    At one point on Wednesday, nine aeroplanes loaded with passengers sat for six hours or more on the tarmac at JFK airport in New York.

    "Reset airline"

    Because Monday is a federal holiday, Presidents' Day, the airline had scheduled extra flights to accommodate people who took advantage of the long weekend to travel.

    White said: "Cancelling one more day's operations will really help reset our airline."

    Earlier, Neeleman, the company's founder, said JetBlue will adopt a policy of paying penalties to customers if they are stranded on a plane for too long.

    Neeleman said JetBlue's management needed to be strengthened and blamed the breakdown on an inferior communication system that keeps pilots and flight attendants in the dark, as well as an inadequate reservation system.

    JetBlue has enjoyed strong popularity and customer satisfaction since its launch, largely on the basis of low fares.

    When the ice storm hit, most airlines cancelled substantial numbers of flights early, and resumed their schedules a day or two later.

    JetBlue, anticipating a break in the weather, tried to keep flying, but

    Neeleman admitted the airline should have cancelled more flights on Wednesday.

    Bill of rights

    The bad weather also meant some passengers were left stranded on planes for six hours or more, as their planes were unable to take off or return to their gate because of the storm and gridlock on airport taxiways.

    Recent problems on US airlines have led to calls from Congress to revive legislation aimed at setting a "bill of rights" for passengers, which was original planned in 1999 but postponed after the airline industry agreed voluntary customer service initiatives.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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