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Current CEO Robin Hayes, who pursued mergers during his time to draw JetBlue closer in size to other major airlines, said he's leaving for his health.
JetBlue said Monday that CEO Robin Hayes will step down and be replaced by the airline's president, Joanna Geraghty, who will be the first woman to lead a major U.S. carrier.
Hayes, 57, said he will retire for health reasons.
"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 said in a statement.
JetBlue said the change will happen on Feb. 12.
Geraghty joined JetBlue nearly 20 years ago and has taken on an increasingly prominent role at the New York-based airline in recent years, including becoming president and chief operating officer in 2018. Prior she served as executive vice president and chief people officer after a series of roles that highlighted her previous experience as an attorney.
She is also a board member of the JetBlue Foundation, which partners with organizations to advance STEM and aviation education and careers in communities historically underrepresented in the aviation space — particularly people of color and women.
Geraghty said she was honored to get the new job, and said she was looking forward "as we execute on our strategic initiatives, return to profitable growth, and generate sustainable value" for shareholders.
The change at the New York-based airline comes as it waits for a federal judge to decide whether it can purchase Spirit Airlines for $3.8 billion, a deal it beat out Frontier for in 2022. The Justice Department sued to block the deal, and a trial was held last fall, according to the Associated Press.
The Justice Department already successfully sued to kill JetBlue's partnership with American Airlines last year.
JetBlue is the nation's sixth-biggest airline by revenue, slightly behind No. 5 Alaska Airlines. Hayes pursued mergers during his leadership to draw the airline closer in size to American, Delta, United and Southwest, the Associated Press reported. The airline tried to buy Virgin America in 2016, but it was outbid by Alaska Airlines.
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