JetBlue Reviewing Expansion Plan

New CEO Dave Barger wants to "calm things down."
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Chief Executive Dave Barger says that his first job is to "calm things down" and that the airline will thoroughly review its growth plans.

Barger, who took over for David Neeleman on May 10, said Wednesday that JetBlue has had "an awful lot of growth over the space of one year," adding 16 cities. "Let's calm things down a bit," he told an industry conference.

The airline recently completed a review of future expansion, but another one is necessary and will be finished during the next 60 days, Barger said. Through 2015, JetBlue has orders for 78 Airbus A320s, with 50 options, and orders for 101 Embraer 190s, with 100 options. It currently operates 100 A320s and 26 of the 190s.

"We will be taking a hard look at not just the number of airplanes we have today, but

also our commitment over the next several years," Barger said. "We can dial up the growth if we want to or dial it back down." JetBlue recently sold five A320s.

While growth may slow, Barger says JetBlue is ready to deploy E190s in more markets, particularly in the Midwest, now that it is assured of the aircraft's reliability.

As the launch customer for the plane, JetBlue experienced early operational problems. The carrier has identified 850 U.S. city pairs where it can operate 100-seat aircraft point-to-point. Later on, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America are possibilities, Barger said.

Barger said he had worked with Neeleman for nine years, and he applauded Neeleman's vision. In seven years of operation, JetBlue has become one of the top four carriers in New York, the world's biggest aviation market, as well as the leading airline advocate for offering comfort in coach.

But JetBlue was embarrassed by an operational meltdown in February that was triggered by bad weather at Kennedy Airport.

"The vision is great, but

now let's make sure we have ... the execution behind the scenes to match the vision that's out there," Barger said.

Barger did not say whether JetBlue is encountering the same domestic pricing softness that other carriers are seeing. JetBlue will provide midquarter financial guidance next week, he said.