JetBlue CEO to exit on ‘advice of my doctor,’ cites job ‘pressure’


JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said he’s leaving the airline in February after more than eight years at the helm “on the advice of my doctor,” citing “the extraordinary challenges and pressure of this job [that] have taken their toll.”

“It’s time I put more focus on my health and well-being,” the 57-year-old airline veteran announced in a press release on Monday.

Hayes, who rose to the top job at JetBlue in 2015, will be succeeded by the company’s chief operating officer, Joanna Geraghty, effective Feb. 12.

Hayes — who served as an executive at British Airways for nearly 20 years before joining JetBlue — will remain on the airline’s board of directors until he leaves his post next month, at which point he will stay on as a strategic advisor. Geraghty will join the board, per the press release.

“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.

JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes announced on Monday that he’s retiring from the job after nine years, citing “the extraordinary challenges and pressures of this job.” Arnoux Thomas/ABACA/Shutterstock
“It’s time I put more focus on my health and well-being,” Hayes, 57, shared, noting that he’s stepping down from the job on Feb. 12, 2024, “on the advice of my doctor.” REUTERS

Representatives for JetBlue did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

Hayes’ retirement comes as JetBlue proposes a $3.8 billion acquisition of budget carrier Spirit Airlines.

JetBlue has argued that scooping up Sprit will help it compete with rivals like United and Delta, though the Justice Department disagrees, suing the New York-based airline last year, claiming the merger would rob millions of American travelers of low-cost ticket options.

The DOJ’s complaint argues that competition between JetBlue and Spirit has benefited cost-conscious consumers by bringing “low fares to hundreds of routes across the country.”

Eliminating that competition “would put travel out of reach for many cost-conscious travelers,” the suit, filed in March 2023, alleges. Officials said JetBlue planned to remove 10% to 15% of seats from Spirit planes as part of the tie-up.

However, JetBlue’s lawyers have noted that the four largest US carriers — United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest Airlines — control 80% of the domestic market. 

JetBlue and Spirit combined, meanwhile, control roughly an 8% share.

Hayes’ retirement comes as JetBlue seeks to acquire Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion — a deal that spurred an antitrust lawsuit from the Justice Department last year. Getty Images

Just last month, US District Judge William Young raised the possibility of letting the deal proceed if JetBlue divests more assets as the antitrust trial wrapped up.

Young told a JetBlue lawyer that he expected airline fares would rise if no-frills, ultra-low-cost Spirit no longer was around to “undercut everyone else” and drive down prices.

But the judge, who will decide the case in the non-jury trial in Boston, told both sides that he was having “trouble” with the Justice Department’s request for a permanent injunction blocking a deal in a “dynamic industry facing unique opportunities and challenges in the post-COVID environment.”

Young raised the prospect of further divestitures by JetBlue, which has already agreed to sell off gates and slots at airports in New York City, Boston, Newark, New Jersey, and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to try to address US regulators’ concerns.

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