Opinion

Chrystia Freeland

Video: Off to Brazil with JetBlue’s founder

By Chrystia Freeland
September 22, 2010

“The U.S… is kind of tapped out,” JetBlue founder and former CEO David Neeleman told Chrystia at this past week’s Google Zeitgeist conference. That’s why the serial entrepreneur decided to start his latest venture, Azul Airlines, in his native Brazil. Neeleman said air traffic in Brazil is expanding at three times the rate of GDP, nearly 27% a year, and that his airline is flying to cities that haven’t seen air service in years. Hear what he has to say about this and the JetBlue flight attendant who flew off the rails:

Whenever he visits Brazil, Neeleman is struck by the country’s optimism and enthusiasm, what he calls “that emerging markets buzz.” He does concede that Brazil faces some bottlenecks with infrastructure — Azul had to buy a field next to one Brazilian airport and use it as parking lot in order to keep pace with its growth — and bureaucracy — he’s pushing to reform the government agency that oversees airports — but Neeleman thinks Brazil is a safe haven for investors.

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