Former JetBlue CEO Took Home $10.8 Million in 2023

Skift Take

Robin Hayes raked in some of his highest compensation during his 8-year tenure as JetBlue CEO while the carrier struggled to reach profitability in 2023.

Former JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes made around $10.8 million in total compensation in 2023, his highest take home pay in the past two years, according to a proxy statement JetBlue filed Friday.

During 2021 and 2022, Hayes’ compensation totaled around $3.5 million.

In 2023, the former JetBlue chief executive earned a $3 million bonus — the highest bonus he’s earned since his tenure at JetBlue. He also raked in around $5.4 million in stock awards. The $3 million bonus was part of an executive retention award, which JetBlue’s executive compensation committee introduced in 2021 to encourage executives to remain at the company during the pandemic. 

Hayes announced in January he would step down as CEO — a role he had held since 2015 — due to health reasons. His successor, then-chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty became the first woman to lead a major U.S. airline. 

As part of Geraghty’s CEO contract, she will receive a base salary of $700,000 and is eligible for an annual incentive bonus that’s 175% above her pay target. She is also eligible for a one-time award of restricted stock units valued at $2 million that won’t be vested until May 31, 2026. Hayes’ base bay in 2023 was $722,917.

Hayes, who was also an executive at British Airways, first joined JetBlue in 2008 as the airline’s chief commercial officer. 

A Tenure With Mixed Results

Hayes’ tenure at JetBlue saw mixed results — he wanted JetBlue to grow beyond a small, low-cost carrier, one that could effectively compete with the Big Four (American, Delta, United and Southwest). 

The Northeast Alliance and merger with Spirit Airlines were two initiatives Hayes heavily championed to achieve this growth — but both were struck down in court. JetBlue also made a bid for Virgin America in 2016, but ultimately lost to Alaska Airlines. 

Post-pandemic, JetBlue had also been struggling to achieve profitability due rising operational costs from new labor contracts and issues with its Pratt & Whitney engines that caused it to ground several aircraft. 

But Hayes’ tenure also had some bright spots. During his time at JetBlue, the carrier rolled out its popular — and disruptive — business class seating, known as its Mint class and a slate of routes to Europe. 

Geraghty’s strategy for JetBlue represents a sharp contrast from that of Hayes. She previously said her main priority is restoring JetBlue’s profitability and she would be “returning to business fundamentals” to achieve that goal. So far, JetBlue has cut dozens of underperforming routes since Geraghty took the helm in February. 

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