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JetBlue chief says airlines, high-speed rail can coexist

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Dave Barger, president and CEO of JetBlue — which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year — talked about the airline industry and high-speed rail during a recent stop in San Francisco.

Were you bummed Virgin America stormed onto the scene with its swanky, Vegas-style cabins? Our focus is from our East Coast home in New York. I think the low-fare airlines in the Bay Area are now alive and well and present at [San Francisco International Airport]. Close to 25 percent of the traffic at SFO is now offered to [low-fare airlines].

If you were not in the industry, how would you feel about all these fees being tacked onto the price of airfare? I’m sure I would be annoyed of the nickel and diming. Inflation [should have made ticket prices] a significantly higher number than it is today.

What changes do you foresee happening to air travel in the next few decades? I believe that we will be using technology in a significant way to navigate airplanes. We will be using satellite instead of ground-based radar — no different than what we’re doing with a GPS in a car.

Do you see nationwide high-speed rail as a threat or complement to the airline industry? It’s a complement. I don’t think we need hundreds of departures every day from the Bay Area to Los Angeles.

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maldax@sfexaminer.com



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