The airline announced Hayes would officially retire on February 12, 2024, staying on to be a “strategic advisor over the coming months.”
Hayes 35-Year Career Oversaw JetBlue Mint, Spirit Airlines Takeover
The chief executive has spent nearly his entire career in the aviation industry, working in airport duty free shops and with military avionic systems before joining British Airways as a gate attendant. He would ultimately work his way up through the company to executive vice president for The Americas, meeting his wife Sue along the way.
In 2008, Hayes joined JetBlue as the carrier’s chief commercial officer, before being promoted to president in 2014. By February 2015, he was officially elevated to the role of chief executive officer, with his most recent contract extended to September 2025.
During his tenure with the company, Hayes is credited for the creation of the JetBlue Mint premium cabin, debuting as a true alternative to the legacy carrier’s domestic first class options for cross-country flights. He also oversaw the airline’s expansion into international markets – first to Canada, and then to several destinations in Europe.
Hayes was also involved with the dissolved Northeast Alliance with American Airlines, which promised codeshare flights with the Fort Worth-based airline as part of a larger interconnectivity agreement focused on New York and New England. The Justice Department won a challenge against the agreement, forcing the two airlines to unwind the agreement. Currently, the carrier is working through a challenge of their merger with Spirit Airlines – a takeover Hayes was active in luring away from fellow ultra-low-cost-carrier Frontier Airlines.
The executive says he is stepping down “on the advice of my doctor and after talking to my wife,” saying he wants to spend more time focused on his health and well-being. In his place, current airline president Joanna Geraghty will take on the role. She has worked at the airline for nearly 20 years, moving from an associate general counsel and director of litigation and regulatory affairs to the presidency in 2018. Geraghty was unanimously voted into the role by the carrier’s board of directors.
“With a beloved brand, an industry-leading customer experience, a unique culture, and the industry’s best crewmembers, JetBlue has long been a disruptor,” Geraghty said in a statement. “I’m excited to continue working with JetBlue’s 25,000 crewmembers who are as energized as I am about challenging the status quo and bringing humanity to an industry long dominated by the legacy carriers.”
Share your thoughts on Hayes’ retirement and Geraghty’s ascension on the FlyerTalk Forums.
Source: frugal travel guy