Former JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes has made the surprising move to Airbus to act as the aircraft manufacturer’s Chairman and CEO of Airbus Americas only three months after leaving the airline to focus more on his health. 

Also a former Chair of IATA’s Board of Governors, Hayes had been CEO for the airline for nine years before stepping down in February, he will replace Jeffrey Knittel at Airbus when he retires from the role on 3 June 2024. 

Hayes highlighted his interest in Airbus’ decarbonisation efforts and said: “After some time off, I am excited and energised to join Airbus and build on the incredible success in the region. 

“I have known Jeff and the Airbus team for well over a decade and I believe they have done a terrific job leading Airbus in the Americas. It is an honour for me to take up this opportunity to be part of the Airbus team.” 

As CEO of Airbus Americas, Hayes will oversee the commercial aircraft business and have responsibility for Airbus’ helicopter, space, and defence businesses in North America, where it employs more than 10,000 staff at 50 sites. 

The aviation industry veteran, who also worked for British Airways for 19 years, joins Airbus as the company deals with concerns about safety in aircraft manufacturing after multiple damning reports about the quality control at Boeing

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While the European manufacturer has benefited from some of the struggles, with airlines such as United turning to Airbus to address delivery gaps with Boeing, the company has also reportedly had its own struggles with the supply chain affecting aircraft deliveries.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said: “Together with the leadership team we’re looking forward to having Robin and his vast industry experience onboard to further deliver on our strategic objectives for the region across all the Airbus businesses and further grow our North American footprint.”