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Neeleman Extends Contrition Tour

On day nine of the saga of the Valentine's Day meltdown at JetBlue (JBLU), CEO David Neeleman held a conference call with analysts to discuss the incident once again.

He recounted how the airline's planes got trapped in an ice storm at Kennedy International Airport; how its systems broke down, delaying its recovery for six days; and how it has taken steps to fix its problems and instituted a passenger bill of rights.

Currently, bookings are steady, he indicated. "Our revenue folks feel that the bookings are rolling in and don't really see any damage," he said.

As he has no doubt done countless times during the past week, Neeleman reiterated that JetBlue has learned its lesson, that "those six days will burn bright in our memory for a long time" and that, if it were to happen again, "we will be much more prepared as a company to handle it."

In a 24-hour news cycle where the public, or at least the media, demands apologies for mistakes, Neeleman has emerged as Mr. Contrition on an extended run. He has asked forgiveness on the "Today" show, the "Late Show", the front page of The New York Times, ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN and Fox, in various newspaper interviews and on a teleconference with more than 100 reporters.

Perhaps the time has come to stop apologizing. "This has gone on way too long," said aviation consultant Mike Boyd. "It's a cause celebre when it shouldn't be. It involves nine flights, out of hundreds of thousands, yet you'd think the whole industry was collapsing."

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