Back in the late 1990s, after deregulation ushered in an era of lower costs and fewer creature comforts, Brazilian American airline entrepreneur David Neeleman launched a new airline with the goal of bringing "humanity back to air travel." JetBlue Airways Corporation (JBLU) was incorporated in 1998 under the name NewAir and began operations in February 2000.
Today, JetBlue is the sixth largest domestic airline with a market cap of $6.79 billion and a fleet of 240 aircraft flying to 100 destinations. It is beloved among air travelers who rave over the free perks – unlimited brand-name drinks and snacks, in-flight WiFi, satellite radio and DirecTV, not to mention its best-in-class legroom in coach. (See also: Big Carriers Taking Aim at JetBlue Market Share.)
JetBlue went public in 2002, and as of December 14, 2017, it's trading at $21.18.
A major chunk of JBLU is held by institutional investors such as Vanguard, Fidelity and BlackRock, Inc. (BLK). The top individual shareholders are current and former company executives and board members. Here are the top five shareholders as per the company's proxy filings in March 2017. All figures include restricted stock units, stock options as well as common stock. (See also: What's Behind JetBlue's 63.5% Rise Over 10 Years?)
Robin Hayes, took over as the company President in 2014 and then nearly a year later, also assumed the role of the Chief Executive Officer. Hayes was a JetBlue exec for seven years before that; he joined the company after a 19-year career with British Airways. Hayes has overseen the expansion of Mint, JetBlue's extremely popular premium cabin with lie-flat seats and private suites. Hayes received $2.95 million in stock awards last year in addition to his $550,000 base salary. As per the filings, he owns more than 602,000 shares in the company. (See also: JetBlue's Lower-Priced First-Class Seats.)
Joel Clinton Peterson
Joel Clinton Peterson is chairman of JetBlue Airways, a position he's had since the company's founding in 1999, and founding partner and chairman of Peterson Partners LP, a Utah-based investment management firm. Peterson has a long relationship with David Neeleman, JetBlue's founder, and in fact, Peterson's firm also handled venture capital for Neeleman's latest airline venture, Brazilian Azul S.A. (AZUL), which made its market debut on April 11 on the NYSE. Joel Clinton Peterson owned 587,662 shares in JetBlue as of the most recent filings. (See also: Azul, Shareholders Fetch $645 Mln in Bigger-Than-Expected Brazil, U.S. IPO.)
Last November, Mark Powers stepped down from his role as executive vice president and chief financial officer for JetBlue, a position he held since 2011. Under his leadership during that time, JetBlue reduced debt by over $800 million, increased free cash flow by $1.6 billion and boosted return on invested capital by 12 percent. Powers will remain in an advisory role with JetBlue until November 2017. According to the proxy filings, Powers owns 289,580 shares of JetBlue. (See also: TripAdvisor Ranks the World's Best Airlines.)
James Hnat serves as the company's executive vice president and general counsel. Hnat joined the company in 2001 and was named the general counsel just two years later. He previously served as an attorney at the New York office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy, LLC. As per the latest proxy filings, Hnat owns 107,199 shares in the company.
Frank V. Sica
Frank Sica is JetBlue's vice chairman, a position he's held since 1998 when the company was incorporated. He's currently a partner at Tailwind Capital, a private equity firm focused primarily on health care and industrial services. Prior to that, he spent 20 years at Morgan Stanley (MS) and Soros Fund Management. He is also a trustee for the Cancer Research Institute and a director at Nautilus Neurosciences Inc. and Nextremity Solutions Inc. Sica owns 96,000 shares according to the proxy filings. (See also: Southwest vs. Virgin vs. JetBlue: Comparing Business Models.)