JetBlue CEO: Southwest buy won’t affect growth

By Reuters
Posted Sep. 28, 2010 at 11:53 a.m.

Southwest Airlines Co.’s plan to buy AirTran Holdings will not affect JetBlue Airways’ intent to grow organically, JetBlue’s chief executive said.

In a memo to employees obtained by Reuters, Dave Barger said JetBlue “would not be distracted” by the planned Southwest purchase of AirTran for $1.4 billion in cash and stock.

That deal, which was announced on Monday, lifted JetBlue shares mainly on speculation that it may view the prospect of consolidation more favorably.

“Overall, (Southwest) does not change our plans to grow organically, and to focus on growing (Boston) and the Caribbean,” Barger said in the memo.

“Our plan has proven to be the right path forward, and we will not be distracted from the goals we have set for ourselves. We could easily double our size overnight, but at what cost to our balance sheet, our culture and brand? We’ve worked too hard for those assets.”

JetBlue shares rose fractionally on Tuesday while most other major carriers were trading lower.

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