HERNDON, VA—On April 22nd, Airbus announced that C. Jeffrey Knittel is retiring as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Americas, Inc. on June 3, 2024, after serving as the region’s top executive since 2018. 

Robin Hayes, former CEO of JetBlue Airways, has been selected to succeed him. Hayes brings 35 years of global aerospace leadership to Airbus having served in a series of senior executive roles at British Airways over the course of his 19-year tenure, and JetBlue, where he was CEO for nine years. From 2020 to 2022, Hayes was Chair of the IATA’s Board of Governors, where he championed the association’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Hayes will report to Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury.  

As Chairman and CEO, Hayes will lead the commercial aircraft business, and will have responsibility for coordination among the company’s helicopters, space, and defense businesses in North America. The region has more than 10,000 Airbus employees across 50 sites. Additionally, Airbus spends $15 billion annually with more than 2,000 U.S. suppliers in over 40 states.

“After some time off, I am excited and energized 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 honor for me to take up this opportunity to be part of the Airbus team,” said Hayes. “Airbus’ commitment to safety and decarbonization is incredibly important to me personally, and I am both motivated by and committed to contributing to the Airbus purpose to pioneer sustainable aerospace.” 

During Knittel’s tenure, Airbus has grown its presence in the Americas and expanded its industrial and manufacturing footprint, doubling the region’s commercial aircraft deliveries. Knittel brought 40 years of aviation finance, leasing, and manufacturing experience to Airbus, previously serving as President of CIT Aerospace and CIT Transportation Finance. 

“My time at Airbus has been a privilege and I am immensely proud of what the team has accomplished during our time together. We significantly increased revenues, grew market share, and expanded our presence and operational footprint across all three Airbus businesses,” said Knittel. “The future is bright for Airbus in the region, as it is well-positioned to continue on its growth trajectory. Robin’s vast aviation experience, depth of knowledge, and industry relationships make him the right choice at the right time to lead the organization into the future in line with the Company’s global ambition. I look forward to watching the team reach new heights under Robin’s leadership.”