JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes to step down, COO Joanna Geraghty to take over

Robin Hayes, CEO of JetBlue Airways, speaks to guests following the airline’s inaugural flight from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York to London Heathrow Airport in London on Aug. 12, 2021.

Chris J. Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes will step down next month, the company said Monday. The airline’s chief operating officer, Joanna Geraghty, will take the helm.

The departure comes as JetBlue tries to acquire budget carrier Spirit Airlines, a nearly $4 billion combination that the New York-based carrier argues will help it grow and better compete against larger rivals such as Delta and United.

The U.S. Department of Justice sued to block the merger last year. A decision by a federal judge in Boston is expected in the coming weeks after a trial that wrapped up late last year.

Hayes, a more than three-decade airline industry veteran, cited the high-pressure nature of the job in announcing his resignation via a company statement.

“It’s bittersweet to retire from this airline I love, but I will always feel a part of the JetBlue team and be rooting for its continued success,” Hayes said. “However, the extraordinary challenges and pressure of this job have taken their toll, and on the advice of my doctor and after talking to my wife, it’s time I put more focus on my health and well-being.”

Hayes will remain on the board of directors until he leaves his post on Feb. 12, at which point he will stay on as a strategic advisor and Geraghty will join the board.

Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer of JetBlue Airways, speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview at the World Aviation Festival in London on Sept. 5, 2019.

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Geraghty has spent about two decades at JetBlue, the majority of the relatively young carrier’s lifespan. During that time, the airline expanded internationally and launched a business class.

But JetBlue, whose flights are concentrated in the heavily congested New York-area airspace and other busy patches of the country such as Florida, has struggled in recent months.

Geraghty will be tasked with righting the ship and, if the DOJ is unsuccessful in blocking a Spirit tie-up, overseeing that merger process. JetBlue plans to convert Spirit’s bright yellow and densely packed planes into its own cushier configurations.

Geraghty was named COO in 2018 and headed parts of the business, including its growing network and its revenue management.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that Robin Hayes will remain on JetBlue’s board of directors until he leaves his post as CEO on Feb. 12, 2024.

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