Kristy Ardizzone Exits JetBlue and LB, Relocates To Las Vegas, Will (Again) Operate Her Own Aviation-Related & Consulting Business
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(October 6. 2006) -- Kristy Ardizzone, a private pilot with LB Airport-business ties appointed by then-LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill with Council approval to City Hall's "Airport Advisory Commission" -- where she helped steer JetBlue Airways toward a major market presence at Long Beach Airport and went on to become JetBlue's Manager of Government Affairs, Western Region -- has left JetBlue to (again) operate her own aviation-related and consulting business....this time in Las Vegas.
Ms. Ardizzone left the highly-rated commercial carrier at the end of September with a glowing letter from JetBlue's Senior VP/Gen'l Counsel Robert Land (extended portions below)...and has actually been living in Las Vegas since shortly before last Christmas 2005, she told LBReport.com on October 4.
"I moved out here [Las Vegas] just before Christmas. I exited to move on with my own company again. I've been back and forth for several months," Ms. Ardizzone said.
Ms. Ardizzone previously operated "Ardizzone Consulting" based near LB Airport when then-Mayor Beverly O'Neill (with City Council approval) appointed her to LB's "Airport Advisory Commission." In 2000, her fellow Commissioners named her Vice Chair...and later named her Chair two days after a Council vote that would forever change LB's history.
In May 2001, without LB's then-city management, then-Mayor or then-Councilmembers telling the public the full story, the Council voted 8-1 (management recommendation, motion by Kell, Carroll dissenting) to change city law to let carriers hold flight slots for up to two years before using them.
Almost immediately thereafter, JetBlue took all of LB Airport's then-vacant large aircraft flight slots (27 of 41), immediately maxing them out...and after the fact the public learned the rest of the story.
At a May 24, 2001 LB Airport news conference, JetBlue CEO David Neeleman publicly thanked Ms. Ardizzone (present and watching from the tarmac, photo right) in connection with JetBlue's arrival in LB:
"[A]s we looked around and we saw where we wanted to go, we met some really interesting people and, you know, from our experience here, Kristy Ardizzone who's over there, convinced us -- Kristy, [let's] give her a big hand [applause] -- that really that Long Beach is the place to be."
Following the podium portion of the news conference, LBReport.com asked JetBlue CEO Neeleman for further details on what led his company to LB.
LBReport.com:...So how did it work? Did you call Long Beach Airport? Can you give us kind of the outline?
Mr. Neeleman: Yeah...WinAir was based in Salt Lake City so a lot of our employees from Salt Lake worked for WinAir, so we contacted 'em and said hey who do we talk to, they hooked us up with Kristy [Ardizzone] and we came and made a visit and things just kind of snowballed from there."
The Council's May 2001 vote put the city's noise-budgeted Airport Ordinance at some risk when other Airport carriers complained to the FAA and threatened litigation. LB's City Attorney office crafted an FAA-approved settlement -- with JetBlue assisting the City by giving up a few flight slots.
On August 29, 2001, JetBlue CEO Neeleman told an Airport press event launching JetBlue flights from LB to the east coast, "We're gonna fly so many people outta here you won't be able to believe it"...to the applause of members of LB's political and business establishment invited to the event.
By this time, Ms. Ardizzone had taken on a consulting role with JetBlue as its "West Coast Opportunities Manager." At the August 29 event, she looked on as then-City Manager Henry Taboada chauffeured Mayor Beverly O'Neill (passenger seat, shadowed) onto the Airport tarmac in a JetBlue company VW.
During this period, Ms. Ardizzone continued -- without Council objection -- to chair City Hall's "Airport Advisory Commission."
Ms. Ardizzone also encountered patches of turbulent air. In late 2000, it became known that then-City Manager Taboada had retained Ms. Ardizzone (via a purchase order contract that didn't require Council approval) to provide "services to enhance the public image of the city in accordance with Departmental needs and or fund availability." Public reaction was mainly negative, some wondering what city-related services she was providing...with more of the ire directed at Mr. Taboada than Ms. Ardizzone.
In Sept. 2003, to accommodate the new flight activity resulting from JetBlue's arrival, city management proposed a permanent expansion of LB's Airport terminal area facilities to roughly 93,000-98,000 sq. ft. (nearly double the current square footage with permanent + temporary facilities). As 2004 elections loomed, 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll sought to send the hot potato first to a blue ribbon style commission and the Council sent the matter to the Airport Advisory Commission. This ended up delaying progress on Airport improvements for over a year...and in the interim, city management proposed expanding the facilities even further to over 130,000 sq. feet.
Council incumbents Dennis Carroll and Rob Webb, both backed by Mayor O'Neill and the Chamber of Commerce, were defeated in the 2004 election cycle by Patrick O'Donnell and Rae Gabelich, propelled in large part by day-glo orange signs in their Airport-impacted districts stating, "Say NO to Airport Expansion."
In April 2005, a group calling itself the "Long Beach Alliance" appeared...with Ms. Ardizzone prominently present (in photo alongside Harbor Commissioner James Hankla). At a debut media event, business and political leaders held professionally printed signs saying "Improve Long Beach Airport! Improvement, Not Expansion."
Ms. Ardizzone remained with JetBlue while the City Council made its major 2006 LB Airport EIR decisions (among the final acts of the exiting O'Neill administration)...although she had already apparently relocated to Las Vegas.
Businesslike and unflappable under pressure, her responses to our frequently pointed questions were reliably true.
LBReport.com posts below the text of an August 2006 JetBlue company email [provided to us by JetBlue's press office at our request and separately by Ms. Ardizzone]:
It is with mixed emotions that I share with you the news that Kristy Ardizzone, Manager of Government Affairs, Western Region, will be leaving JetBlue.
Kristy joined JetBlue, initially as an independent contractor with her consulting company, in the spring of 2001, and was instrumental in getting our Long Beach focus city up and running from day one. As a Long Beach native, commercial pilot and political consultant, Kristy's expertise on local politics and the unique regulatory regime governing the slot-controlled Long Beach Municipal Airport were vital to JetBlue obtaining the slots which have enabled us to reshape the travel experience in Southern California. Following our start in Long Beach, Kristy worked on a variety projects including the initial expansion of our terminal area and guiding our Operations and Legal teams to ensure compliance with the noise curfew in place at Long Beach, as well as in San Diego. Further, as our Long Beach operations reached their maximum flight potential, Kristy worked closely with our other western Blue cities both on community and governmental matters.
Not long ago, Kristy moved away from Long Beach and relocated to Las Vegas where she could enjoy more time [with familymembers] while still continuing her work in Long Beach, and our other western cities.
With the future of Long Beach having recently taking a big step forward through the culmination of a multi-year effort, resulting in the approval of the environmental work necessary to support a new terminal area improvement project, Kristy has decided to move forward with some exciting new projects of her own. Kristy will be resuming these efforts through her consulting company in areas such as political consulting, community affairs and also corporate aircraft sales.
For those of you who have worked with Kristy during her more than five years with JetBlue, you know her infectious energy, passion and dedication will be difficult to replace. In fact, rather than even try to do so, much of Kristy's work and daily contributions to JetBlue will now be absorbed and shared by several others across the airline while some of her distinctive insight and counsel will simply be missed.
Kristy plans to stay with JetBlue until the end of September, and I hope you will join me in wishing her great success in all her future endeavors. More importantly, I hope you will join me in thanking Kristy for the tremendous efforts she has given to make JetBlue the successful, customer-focused airline it is today.
[s/ Robert C. Land
Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Associate General Counsel]
Contact us: mail@LBReport.com
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