Joanne Geraghty becomes first female CEO of a US major with JetBlue appointment  

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JetBlue’s current Chief Operating Officer and President, Joanne Geraghty, will become the carrier’s next CEO. Taking up her new role at the carrier on February 12, 2024, Geraghty becomes the first woman to lead a major US airline in history. 

Robin Hayes, the current CEO of JetBlue, will step down and serve as a strategic advisor to the company from the same date. Hayes said he decided to step down to focus more on his health. 

During Geraghty’s almost 20-year career at JetBlue, she has contributed to various roles of increasing responsibility. In 2018, she was named President and Chief Operating Officer, taking on responsibility for the airline’s operations and commercial performance including network, brand and marketing, and revenue management.  

Before this, Geraghty served as JetBlue’s executive vice president of customer experience, responsible for airports, customer support, and inflight service. She also held the role of executive vice president, chief people officer, as well as vice president, associate general counsel and director, litigation and regulatory affairs. She has also served as a member of the board of the JetBlue Foundation.  

JetBlue shares rose by 2% following the news of Geraghty’s appointment. 


Upon her appointment, Geraghty said: “I am honored and excited to serve as the next CEO of JetBlue. With a beloved brand, an industry-leading customer experience, a unique culture, and the industry’s best crewmembers, JetBlue has long been a disruptor. 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 legacy carriers. I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last 20-plus years, and I am looking forward to building on this momentum as we execute our strategic initiatives, return to profitable growth, and generate sustainable value for our shareholders and all our stakeholders.” 

Geraghty joins the few women in the airline industry who hold the position of CEO. Other major airlines like Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air France, and KLM all have female CEOs. While men have historically made up the majority of CEOs and other roles in the so-called “C-suite” in the airline industry. In the US, northeastern-based regional carrier Cape Air is the only other airline to have a female CEO.  

“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,” said Hayes. “For nearly 35 years both at British Airways and here at JetBlue, I’ve loved working in this industry. 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.” 

“I am deeply grateful for these many exciting years, and I feel very lucky to have worked at an airline with a brand, culture, and team that are simply unlike any other in the world,” he added. 

“It has been a privilege to lead JetBlue for the past nine years, and I am proud of all we have accomplished. With a rigorous succession plan in place, the board and I are confident that Joanna is more than ready given her critical role in running JetBlue’s day-to-day business and positioning the airline for success. She guided the operation through the most turbulent time in airline history, has overseen the development and execution of new commercial initiatives, and has tirelessly worked to make JetBlue a better place for our crewmembers and customers.  

“She has been actively engaged in our integration planning with respect to our proposed Spirit transaction. In addition, Joanna and the team have developed a strong plan for JetBlue as we work to return to profitability. For all these reasons, I know the airline is well equipped to continue driving progress and I can pass the baton with confidence knowing she is the right leader at the right time for our airline,” Hayes concluded. 

Taking control amid issues 

Geraghty takes the helm of JetBlue at a crucial point in the carrier’s development. JetBlue is currently awaiting a decision on its proposed merger with fellow US carrier Spirit Airlines, while it is also seeing a decline in revenues and stagnating demand for domestic travel. The carrier’s fortunes are also being tempered by the unraveling of its commercial partnership with American Airlines, known as the Northeast Alliance.  

Despite a judge ruling against it, American Airlines and JetBlue argued that the Northeast alliance was a win for passengers
NYC Russ /

However, the carrier has seen some glimmers of hope through the winter period. It reported that demand for travel in December 2023 “remained healthy” and operational performance was strong over the holiday.  

JetBlue expects fourth quarter (Q4) 2023 results to land at the better end of the guidance ranges provided in its December 7, 2023 market update, based on preliminary results. JetBlue will provide additional details on its final Q4 earnings on January 30, 2024. 

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