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Sat, Apr 18, 2009

JetBlue Juggles Management, Names New Chief Operating Officer

Former President And COO Chew Moved To Advisor Role

Facing a sagging market and new competition in its home market, this week JetBlue Airways shuffled top executive positions at the airline... and announced company president and chief operating officer Russell Chew will step down from those roles later this spring.

The Associated Press reports Rob Maruster will take over as COO, while JetBlue CEO Dave Barger will add the title of president to his business card when Chew steps down June 1 to become a "senior advisor" to the low-cost airline.

Chew, a former FAA official and 17-year veteran with American Airlines, joined the carrier in March 2007. He was named president of JetBlue six months later, as ANN reported.

"Russ has accomplished more than he set out to achieve when he joined us in 2007," Barger said. "His influence in helping us improve operational performance as well as developing the architecture of our strategic planning function will continue to benefit JetBlue far into the future. On behalf of JetBlue's 11,500 Crewmembers, and our Board of Directors, I thank Russ for his service and commitment to JetBlue."

Maruster joined JetBlue in 2005 as Vice President, Operations Planning, after a 12-year career with Delta Air Lines in a variety of positions in the carrier's Marketing and Customer Service departments, culminating in Vice President Airport Customer Service at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In 2006, he was promoted to Senior Vice President, Airports and Operational Planning at JetBlue. In 2008, Maruster's responsibilities expanded to include the Customer Services group, including Inflight Service, Reservations and System Operations.

"From the day I joined JetBlue, I knew I was home," Maruster said Thursday in a company release. "Our culture is our greatest asset, and as a member of the senior leadership team, it is my responsibility to ensure JetBlue's extraordinary crewmembers have the tools, resources and information they need to continue delivering the JetBlue Experience our customers have come to expect of us."

The AP notes the management shuffle comes as JetBlue faces what could be its most challenging times ahead, Valentine's Day ice storms excepted. Though the Forest Hills, NY-based airline retains a dedicated passenger following, its fortunes have floundered in the current economic slump.

Additionally, JetBlue will face new challenges on its home turf this summer, when low-cost giant Southwest Airlines begins service from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

FMI: www.jetblue.com

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