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David Neeleman Recieves ISTAT Award
David Neeleman
David Neeleman
Mar 17, 2011 - SCOTTSDALE - David Neeleman, CEO and founder of Brazilian airline Azul and founder of JetBlue, received the prestigous ISTAT Award presented to him by Steven Udvar Hazy (a past award recipient) at the ISTAT Annual Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona this week. The ISTAT Award is the most distinguished honor in the aviation industry.

The award was created in 2001 by the International Society of Transport Aircraft Trading (ISTAT) association to recognize individuals who have made lasting contributions to the industry over a significant period of time.  The award is bestowed annually at the ISTAT Annual Conference. Other past award recipients included Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest, Fred Smith, founder of FedEx and Joe Sutter, the engineering "father" of the successful 747. 

David G. Neeleman (born October 16, 1959) is a Brazilian-born United States citizen who has founded three commercial airlines, Morris Air, JetBlue Airways and Azul Brazilian Airlines.

Neeleman was born in São Paulo, Brazil, and raised in the United States, to a family of Dutch and North American descent. He lived in Brazil until he was five. He attended Brighton High School in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, and attended the University of Utah for three years before dropping out. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He speaks fluent Portuguese and holds both U.S. and Brazilian citizenship.

He co-founded (with June Morris) Morris Air, a low-fare charter airline, and from 1984 to 1988, he was executive vice president of the company. In 1988 Neeleman assumed the helm of Morris Air as its president. Then when Morris Air was acquired by Southwest Airlines for $130 million in 1993, he worked for a short time on their Executive Planning Committee.

After leaving Southwest, Neeleman became the CEO of Open Skies, a touch screen airline reservation and check-in systems company, later acquired by HP in 1999. At the same time, he helped with another upstart airline, WestJet.

As the CEO of JetBlue Airways, his 2002 salary was $200,000 with a bonus of $90,000. Neeleman donated his entire salary to the JetBlue Crewmember Crisis Fund, which was established for JetBlue employees who fall on hard times.

On May 10, 2007, David Neeleman was replaced by David Barger as CEO of JetBlue and on May 21, 2008 he was replaced as chairman of the board by Joel Peterson.

On March 27, 2008 Neeleman officially announced plans to launch a new airline, Azul (Portuguese for "blue"), a domestic carrier in Brazil.

Neeleman lives with his wife Vicki in New Canaan, Connecticut, United States. They are the parents of nine children.

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