Topic of the Week: JetBlue Cleans House


After a rough winter operationally followed by the pilots voting to unionize, JetBlue is making a bunch of management changes.

First, these guys are all leaving the building.

Then these people are all getting expanded roles.

  • Joanna Geraghty goes from Chief People Officer to EVP of Customer Experience
  • Mike Elliott gets promoted from VP Crew Relations to SVP of People, taking over from Joanna Geraghty
  • Jeff Martin, SVP of Operations, takes over Marisa Von Wieding’s old job in addition to his existing role
  • Scott Laurence gets promoted from VP of Network Planning and Industry Partnerships to SVP of Airline Planning
  • Marty St. George gets promoted from SVP Marketing and Commercial Strategy to SVP Commercial, taking over sales and revenue management among others
  • Warren Christie gets promoted from VP of Ops Planning and Training to SVP Regulatory & Training
  • Dave Clark gets promoted from Director of Schedule Planning to VP of Network Planning
  • Glenn Cusano goes from VP of Financial Planning and Analysis to VP of Operational Planning and Analysis
  • Tracy Lawlor gets promoted from Director of Financial Planning and Analysis to VP of Financial Planning and Analysis, taking Glenn Cusano’s job

So what do you think? Will this be good for the airline?

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22 comments on “Topic of the Week: JetBlue Cleans House

  1. I wonder if the union vote caught JetBlue by surprise?. With 74% voting yes is seems they should have been aware that the environment had shifted from the two previous elections.

    1. During past union votes, Jetblue management sent out very definitive emails saying how much they wanted to retain the direct relationship, blah blah blah. During this one, they sent out one email at the beginning saying “there’s a union vote” and one at the end saying “The pilots picked a union.” I’m guessing they knew it wasn’t going their way this time and didn’t want to come out the other side seeming antagonistic towards the union.

  2. That makes sense, it looks like they knew the vote was inevitable. No surprise that there is now a renewed effort underway for the flight attendents at JetBlue to unionize.

    1. Not so. What is breeding a union for the pilots is the knowledge that the new pilot rest rules have created a much greater demand for pilots, and much more leverage for them in dealing with airlines.

      In other words, it’s a chance to make more money, and a union is often the best way to accomplish that.

      1. The days of receiving higher pay for being part of a union are largely in the past. Look at auto manufacturing where the non-union plants owned by the foreign makers pay more than the old UAW plants owned by the big 3. Granted airline pilots are different than assembly line workers but I’d wager the union is about more than just wages.

  3. JetBlue has done the right thing by cleaning house, it is now UA’s turn to do the same in order to survive. UA’s CEO is so out of touch it’s not funny, everything he’s touched has turned to s..t. It is time to let a new innovative team to come in and try to fix their problems. Big task ahead.

  4. Is it me, or is this an extremely operations focused change-over? I see one appointment that is related to how consumers will be connected with the JetBlue brand and that is Marty St. George. And his job gets expanded, and there are no other appointments that talk to or about the bums in seats. Sure, a smooth running operation is ultimately in the company’s best interest, but trying to repair/engage with critical consumers who were on the “receiving end” of the poor performance winter seems important to me.

  5. I am not so sure that the ALPA vote is the prime mover behind this shake up. Sure, it may have had an impact, but I’m not convinced that it is the underlying cause any more than the weather caused US GDP to flatline in Q1. The dismissals are centered on the ops side of the house and promotions on the sales, marketing and finance realms. B6 managed to grow revenue almost 6% YOY from Q1/13 only to see it obliterated with a 5.5% increase in operating expenses (with fuel,mx and ac rent actually down). Naturally, Northeast-centric B6 took it in the chops with weather scratching 4100 flights and costing $50 mill in revenue.

    I sense that ALPA may have been the nail in the coffin…but Sr. Management had to do something to placate shareholders after posting a .01 div per share.

  6. JetBlue needs this, and possibly more change. Planes are not just looking old but a lot of the customer-facing things aren’t what they were. Last three flight segments I’ve had something broken at the seat – TV units, seat recline and the entertainment control. Is three a trend? It’s just interesting that in the specific seat I am in there is broken equipment. If we were to poll all on a given flight what else would we find? It’s the customer facing issues that will kill the JetBlue advantage. $20 upgrades now $80. Lots of preemptive flight cancellations without alternatives or options easily arranged. The airline is becoming a legacy carrier were we expect broken gear and a broken experience. Hopefully this set of management changes and the wake up call the first of many unionizations brings will cause improvements. Or a Southwest buy out of B6…

  7. Maruster’s Delta regime at JetBlue is finally coming to an end, which was LONG overdue. Past service failures from the no-talent hacks that he brought over to JetBlue after his arrival almost became the demise of the airline. Lack of operational experience and ignoring recommendations from subject matter experts was what this group excelled at. While JetBlue continually invents ways to save money, cut costs, and keep losses in control, It’s absolutely flabbergasting at how much salary Maruster and his cronies were receiving for their less than attractive performance. JetBlue should really consider how much compensation they hand out to ignorant, stubborn COO’s and VP’s who essentially do not give a rats ass about anyone but themselves and the ignorant, arrogant, poor decision making ultimately put the airline in situations they needed to continually dig out of. Barger isn’t next, and the Union vote had nothing to do with jettisoning this putrid, excess fat – it was set in motion long before the Union vote. Service failure after service failure yielded causalities, which were the guys “all leaving the building”….. good riddance.

  8. The abrogation of the AA code-share, the sale of the in-flight entertainment subsidiary, and the election of ALPA are ALL indicative of a Company (and its pilots) preparing to be sold.

    1. I agree to a point. Bringing ALPA onto the property (with TWU waiting in the wings for Inflight and Ground) have everything to do with the possible acquisition.

      Selling LiveTV to Thales (at a profit) had more to do with focusing $$ on it’s core and not spending capital on on a fringe to remain competitive. The AA abrogation was hardly shocking with US’s east coast network in the mix. It was nothing more than interlining to begin with; it added little value to either party and they were competing in more markets than cooperating.
      I am sure at some point B6 will be in play…but it will not happen under this White House administration unless: 1. there is such a severe divestiture that any benefit goes out the window or 2. B6 falls into severe financial distress (a la TWA) and that is highly unlikely.
      Five years from now??? Who knows

      1. What merger or acquisition has been blocked under this administration? Why would Jet Blue be the first?

        We’ll see what happens with Comcast but short of re-uniting Standard Oil I don’t see any reaction coming from the Obama White House or our current congress.

  9. AT&T and T-Mobile comes to mind. The Comcast end-game deal will be interesting and may have more to do with politics than anti-trust due diligence (I’m not going to get into that here).

    What makes B6 different from the past 4 M&As is JFK and NYC concentration from potential actors involved. Handing the B6 keys over to DL,UA or AA , with their 37% market share at JFK, along with DL’s & AA’s share advantage at LGA/JFK and UA’s at EWR, is a non starter. Concentration in BOS would also be problematic for judicial rubber stamping. I am not saying it is impossible….but any deal would come with a severe divestiture penalty that a successful deal would be,at best, a Pyrrhic victory.

  10. I second the notion that the bloom is off the rose. Every time I have flown JetBlue lately, something on the plane is broken… Those babies are falling apart. Out of SFO, it makes VX much more compelling.

  11. Given that the only time I’ve flown JetBlue so far I suffered a pre-emptive flight cancellation, costing me 3/4 of a day and an additional $100 in parking to fly out of an alternative airport, I’m in favor of anything to change JetBlue.

    I love the onboard product, and really, really want to love JetBlue as an airline but if I have issues with JetBlue again in the next 1 or 2 trips with them, I’ll mentally lump them in with all the legacies.

    Brett, I would love to see a post on pre-emptive flight cancellations, especially (perhaps) comparing JetBlue’s major airports (e.g., JFK, or even LGA) to minor ones in the same area (HPN)… I suspect that JetBlue favors its bigger hubs when it comes to cancellations (and to be honest, it probably should). Would also love to see you bring issue up the next time you interview someone from the company.

    1. Kilroy – Hmm, I’m not even sure where to find info about pre-cancels. It might be available somewhere I suppose.

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