Former JetBlue CEO to Lead Airbus Americas Division

Photo Credit: Airbus

Airbus SE has announced a key leadership change for its Americas division. C. Jeffrey Knittel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Americas, Inc., will retire on June 3, 2024.

Knittel has led the region for the aircraft manufacturer since 2018. He will remain with the division to ensure a smooth transition, with former JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes set to replace him.

Seasoned Aviation Leader Robin Hayes Takes the Helm

Succeeding Knittel is Robin Hayes, the former CEO of JetBlue Airways. Hayes brings a wealth of experience to Airbus, boasting 35 years in the global aerospace industry.

During his 19-year tenure at British Airways, he held various senior executive roles. Additionally, he served as CEO of JetBlue for nine years.

Hayes’ commitment to sustainability is evident in his role as Chair of the IATA’s Board of Governors from 2020 to 2022.

Here, he championed the association’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. In his new role, Hayes will report directly to CEO Guillaume Faury.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury Welcomes Hayes

“We are thrilled to welcome Robin to the Airbus team,” said Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury. “His extensive industry knowledge will be invaluable as we work together to achieve our strategic objectives across all Airbus businesses in North America.”

“We are confident Robin will further strengthen our presence in the region. I also want to express my sincere gratitude to Jeff for his significant contributions to Airbus’ success over the years. We wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”

Commercial Aircraft, Lead Regional Collaboration

As Chairman and CEO, Hayes will spearhead the commercial aircraft business for Airbus Americas. Additionally, he will oversee collaboration among the company’s helicopter, space, and defense sectors in the region.

Airbus Americas employs over 10,000 people across 50 sites and maintains a strong commitment to the North American economy, spending $15 billion annually with more than 2,000 U.S. suppliers in over 40 states.

Robin Hayes Comments

“After a well-deserved break, I’m energized to join Airbus and build upon their incredible success in the Americas,” said incoming Airbus Americas CEO Robin Hayes. “I’ve known Jeff and the Airbus team for over a decade, and I’m deeply impressed by their leadership.”

“It’s a true honor to be part of the Airbus team. Their commitment to safety and decarbonization aligns perfectly with my personal values. I’m highly motivated to contribute to the purpose of pioneering sustainable aerospace.”

Knittel Reflects on Tenure

During Knittel’s tenure, the regional division witnessed significant growth. The region’s commercial aircraft deliveries doubled, and the company’s industrial and manufacturing footprint expanded considerably.

Knittel brought 40 years of experience in aviation finance, leasing, and manufacturing to Airbus, having previously served as President of CIT Aerospace and CIT Transportation Finance.

“My time at Airbus has been a remarkable experience,” said outgoing Airbus Americas CEO C. Jeffrey Knittel.

“I’m incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished together. We’ve achieved substantial revenue growth, expanded market share, and strengthened our presence across all three businesses.”

“The future is bright for Airbus in the Americas, and the company is well-positioned for continued growth.”

“Robin’s extensive aviation experience, deep industry knowledge, and strong relationships make him the ideal choice to lead Airbus Americas into the future and achieve our global ambitions. I have no doubt the team will reach even greater heights under Robin’s leadership.”

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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