Managing Human Resources in a Global Environment
JetBlue took to the skies in 1999, with the ambitious goal of revolutionizing airline travel, and through innovation and enthusiasm, to bring back “humanity”. This case explores the remarkable story behind JetBlue’s success, and the strategies which enabled it, with an emphasis on human resources.
Strategy and Key Success Factors
JetBlue’s strategy appeared simple; exploit an untapped or frustrated market segment (the reluctant or resistant travelers) by creating an entirely new type of flying experience, geared not simply towards cost savings, but improved overall quality. This was contrary to the strategy employed by existing low-cost airlines at the time, which were competing for travelers by cutting costs and passing along savings in the form of lower fares.
Central to the success of this strategy was the fact that JetBlue was creating itself from scratch, and therefore had the option of making choices not available to organizations with significant existing investment in infrastructure. Management decided to utilize innovation, technology and great service to "bring humanity back to air travel" (i.e. focus on the customer.) Tactically, they set out to accomplish this by going paperless and using computers to streamline operations “from flight planning to aircraft maintenance to the sole use of e-tickets". They also wanted to use new airplanes, offer great personal service, and create a state of the art revenue management system and a single class of service with fares averaging 65% less than the competition. Success factors included an increase in fleet to 40 by 2003, an increase in employment levels of nearly 1000 in the next 12 months, adding 5000 more in four years time, continuous innovation, and happy customers.
An important aspect of JetBlue’s strategy was their decision to carefully assess who they wanted to be as a corporation - and what values were important....