HomeLearning CenterJetBlue Will Be the First Major U.S. Airline with a Female CEO

JetBlue Will Be the First Major U.S. Airline with a Female CEO

Originally published by Kim Elsesser for Forbes

For the first time, a major U.S. airline will have a female CEO: JetBlue announced Monday that Joanna Geraghty, the company’s president and COO, will succeed Robin Hayes as CEO. The airline said Hayes is stepping down for health reasons.

Geraghty’s appointment “is a really important win for women in aviation,” said Emily Wicker, the president of Advancing Women in Aviation Roundtable, an organization dedicated to increasing the number of female leaders within the aviation sector. “It is precisely the kind of promotion we fight for. JetBlue has been committed to the advancement of women in leadership, and it is no surprise that they are the first U.S. airline to have a woman in the CEO role.” Wicker pointed out that JetBlue also has a female CFO, Ursula Hurley.

Geraghty’s tenure with the airline spans nearly two decades. In 2018, she was named president and COO, overseeing the airline’s operations and commercial performance. She holds a law degree and was a partner at Holland & Knight before her JetBlue career.

With her appointment, she breaks ground as the first female CEO of a leading U.S. airline. Although women’s rise to leadership has been slow within U.S. airlines, internationally, several carriers have women at the helm, including KLM, Air France, Aer Lingus, El Al, TAP Air Portugal, VietJet, Virgin Australia, and Austrian Airlines. Within the U.S., the smaller airline, Cape Air, is also headed by a woman.

“I am honored and excited to serve as the next CEO of JetBlue,” Geraghty said in a press release about her appointment. “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 on our strategic initiatives, return to profitable growth, and generate sustainable value for our shareholders and all our stakeholders.”

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