60 seconds with... Robin Hayes, JetBlue Airways

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Robin Hayes CEO, JetBlue.

CEO JetBlue Credit Getty

What are your plans for the airline in 2019?

We’re focused on keeping JetBlue the best airline to work at, offering an incredible experience to our customers, and delivering solid financial returns for our owners, which allows us to continue growing our brand.

As we approach our 20th anniversary, we know we can’t afford to stand still, and we never have. In 2019, we’ll have new neo aircraft joining our fleet and will be preparing for our A220s that begin arriving in 2020. We’re also excited to be working in partnership with the Port Authority towards an expanded terminal complex at JFK that would pave the way for future growth.

Is technology the key to differentiation in the modern market?

It’s certainly up there. Throughout our history, we’ve always been a disrupter and an innovator. We believe technology is so critical to our future success that we created our very own corporate venture capital subsidiary called JetBlue Technology Ventures. It’s intentionally based in Silicon Valley so we have a front-row seat of new tech that’s in its early stages.

When we see something we like, we work with start-ups to help them develop their businesses and explore how their ideas could benefit JetBlue.

We believe that technology is critical to JetBlue's future success

Is US aviation regulation becoming too onerous?

We have to be careful it doesn’t get that way. I’d prefer government to stick to regulating the essentials of travel, like keeping us safe and secure. I worry that any move to regulate elements of the customer experience, like seat size, will push us back to the pre-deregulation days of 40 years ago, when only the wealthy in the United States could afford to fly.

How important is gender diversity to the industry?

It’s critical. Especially with the industry on the cusp of a large number of retirements among pilots and aircraft technicians, we need to ensure aviation is an attractive option for women and other under-represented groups. We created the JetBlue Foundation to address this and to ignite a passion for aviation in groups that might not see it as a natural career choice.

In brief... Jet Blue

  • As a low-cost airline in the United States, JetBlue serves more than 100 destinations across the Americas
  • Operating out of six focus cities including New York JFK, JetBlue advocates digital transformation
  • JetBlue was founded in 1999 by David Neeleman, with the mission to ‘bring humanity back to air travel’

How do you like to spend time when flying?

I spend most of my time speaking with our crews in the galleys or the cockpit. This one-on-one time is incredibly valuable to me because I get to make personal connections and really dig into the challenges our teams face on the front lines.

Window or aisle seat?

I prefer the aisle because it lets me get started with the “Blue Turn” as soon as we land. This is when all JetBlue crewmembers on a flight pitch in to help clean the aircraft, helping us keep our costs low and turn the aircraft quickly.