JetBlue’s Maruster Leaves After Winter Service Disruption

JetBlue Airways Corp. Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster, who oversaw the suspension of flights at four airports during January winter storms, has left the carrier.

President Robin Hayes, 48, will oversee operations at the airline, the New York-based company said in a statement today without elaborating on the reasons for Maruster’s exit. Maruster, 43, joined JetBlue in 2005 as vice president of operational planning and became COO in 2009.

Maruster’s departure surprised Hunter Keay, an analyst at Wolfe Research Inc. in New York. He said the COO did a good job of keeping operations on time at New York’s John F. Kennedy, the “terrible, terrible, congested” airport that is JetBlue’s main base and a focal point of the winter service disruptions.

“JetBlue is probably under-earning their potential, but I wouldn’t blame that on the operations,” Keay said in an interview. “JetBlue has very high customer satisfaction scores, and you don’t get that from bad operations.”

The stock slid 3.7 percent to $7.63 at the close in New York before JetBlue’s announcement, extending the shares’ decline to 11 percent this year. That ranks ninth among 11 carriers in the Bloomberg U.S. Airlines Index.

Real Hamilton-Romeo, a JetBlue spokeswoman, declined to comment on Maruster’s plans or why he left the airline.

“He felt it was time,” Hamilton-Romeo said. “It was definitely amicable.”

In January, Maruster became the public face of JetBlue in explaining the airline’s decision to suspend operations for 17 hours at four airports after snow blanketed the Northeast U.S., saying the airline “absolutely” took the right step. Operations were idled at the three New York airports -- Kennedy and LaGuardia and New Jersey’s Newark Liberty -- and Boston’s Logan.

The shutdown was intended to allow time for planes and crews to get back into place following 1,800 cancellations. The storms cut revenue by $45 million.

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