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 Feb. 2000.
Today, JetBlue is the sixth-largest domestic airline with a market capitalization of $3.89 billion as of Nov. 10, 2020. 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.
A major chunk of JetBlue is held by institutional investors such as Vanguard and BlackRock, Inc. (BLK). Institutional investors are individuals, organizations, or groups of investors that have a significant amount of money to invest, such as mutual funds, pension funds, and insurance companies. The top individual shareholders are current company executives and a former board member. Here are the top five individual shareholders according to the company's proxy filings in April 2020. All figures include restricted stock units (RSU), stock options as well as common stock.
- JetBlue's top five shareholders include current company executives and a former chairman of the board.
- As part of their annual compensation, JetBlue executives receive stock awards—called restricted stock units—which are issued on a specific date after certain performance conditions are met.
- As of March 2020, JetBlue's top institutional investors included the Vanguard Group, BlackRock Inc., and Primecap Management Company.
- JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes has the top individual ownership of the airline's shares, owning more than 823,000 shares.
- Joel Peterson, former JetBlue chairman of the board, has the second-highest share ownership, holding over 527,000 shares.
Robin Hayes took over as the company President in 2014 and then nearly a year later assumed the role of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Hayes was a JetBlue executive for seven years before that, joining 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 $2.55 million in stock awards in 2019 in addition to his $600,000 base salary. As per the filings, he owns more than 823,000 shares in the company.
JetBlue's fleet includes 262 planes. The company has focus cities in New York, Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orlando, and San Juan.
Joel Peterson is a former chairman of JetBlue Airways board, a position he retired from in May 2020. Peterson, a founding partner and chairman of Peterson Partners LP, a Utah-based investment management firm, has a long relationship with David Neeleman, JetBlue's founder. Peterson's firm handled venture capital for Neeleman's airline venture, Brazilian Azul S.A. (AZUL). Joel Peterson owned 527,255 shares in JetBlue as of the most recent filings.
Joanna Geraghty has been JetBlue's President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) since May 2018. Geraghty joined the company in 2005 and was Executive Vice President of Customer Experience from 2015 to 2018 and was previously the airline's Vice President and Associate General Counsel. Geraghty owns more than 323,000 shares in the company and received a $535,833 base salary and $1.42 million in stock awards in 2019.
Easwaran Sundaram is JetBlue's Chief Digital and Technology Officer. Prior to joining the airline in 2012 as Chief Information Officer (CIO), Sundaram was CIO at Pall Corporation. Sundaram owns more than 189,000 shares in the company and received a $444,167 base salary and approximately $550,000 in stock awards in 2019.
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Stephen Priest joined JetBlue in 2015 as Vice President of Structural Programs. Before joining the airline, Priest was Senior Vice President for British Airways, leading the carrier's joint venture with American Airlines in the North Atlantic. Priest owns more than 172,000 shares in the company and received a $472,917 base salary and approximately $1.17 million in stock awards in 2019.