MIAMI — JetBlue Airways announced today that Robin Hayes will succeed Dave Barger as CEO, effective February 16, 2015. Hayes, JetBlue’s current President, has long been considered a contender for the position, but until now it was unclear what Barger’s intentions were.
Barger, 56, says he will retire when his contract with JetBlue ends in February. “Helping to found and lead JetBlue has been the experience of a lifetime,” he said. “We set out to create a better airline, and through our commitment to that simple goal, the people of JetBlue succeeded in establishing a new standard for value and customer service in our industry. I have been looking for the right time to take the next step in my life for a while, and my decision was ultimately determined by the strong state of the company and my absolute confidence in Robin’s leadership.”
Hayes joined JetBlue in 2008 from British Airways and served as JetBlue’s Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer prior to being named President in 2013. “It is a tremendous honor to succeed Dave as CEO of JetBlue,” said Hayes. “I continue to believe in our mission to inspire humanity, and as CEO I will be a faithful steward of the culture that has madeJetBlue so successful.”
There has been much speculation on Barger’s future since May, when JetBlue director Ann Rhoades told Bloomberg reporter Mary Schlangenstein, “I’d be crazy to tell you he isn’t obviously thinking about it,” in reference to leaving the airline. Wall Street analysts have also been keen to see Barger exit, as the stock is down over 20% since Barger took over as CEO in 2007.
On the choice of Robin Hayes as the next CEO, Joel Peterson, JetBlue’s Chairman had this to say, “During his time as Chief Commercial Officer and President, Robin proved he is the right leader to take JetBlue into the future.”
We’ll have further analysis of what the change in leadership at JetBlue means for the airline tomorrow.