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(JBLU) - Get JetBlue Airways Corporation Report

CEO Dave Barger said suddenly famous flight attendant Steven Slater "is not a hero in my book" and called Slater's in-flight meltdown "an egregious act."

Slater was

hailed as a hero by many because, following an Aug. 9 confrontation with a rude passenger, he swore over the intercom, grabbed two beers, deployed the evacuation chute, slid down it and walked off the job.

Steven Slater, JetBlue's angry flight attendant

In his first substantial

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public comments on the matter, Barger told


that "safety is the number one value "at JetBlue," and deploying the chute was "an egregious act when you think about values."

Additionally, the deployment was costly because the airline had to replace the chute with a spare. More importantly, it caused delays because "you lose the airplane for a couple of hours" while a new chute is installed and new equipment must be provided. In fact, Barger's own flight that day from Syracuse to New York was delayed as the impact of the delay rippled through the system.

While a new chute costs more than $25,000, it is possible to repack deployed chutes, although that task is not performed by the airline.

Slater remains suspended as JetBlue continues to investigate the incident. Barger said he was surprised by the widespread

publicity afforded Slater and "disheartened to think that so many people would call him a hero."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.


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Ted Reed