JetBlue Airways named a new “chief people officer” late Thursday, filling a post that had been vacant for more than a month.
Corporate lawyer Joanna Geraghty took over the People Department, JetBlue’s jaunty name for human resources, effective immediately. She previously served as the airline’s associate general counsel and has a background in aviation law. She has been with JetBlue since March 2005 and will report to CEO Dave Barger.
The carrier’s previous chief people officer left in July, just before the now-infamous flight attendant incident in early August, when fed-up JetBlue crew member Steven Slater told off a passenger over the loudspeaker, deployed the emergency chute and fled the scene, beer in hand.
The career flight attendant was later arrested on multiple charges, including criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. To the airline’s chagrin, Slater became an Internet sensation and a folk hero to frustrated workers everywhere. The Association of Flight Attendants, the country’s largest flight attendants union, weighed in with its support of Slater and offered to pay his legal fees.
JetBlue is a nonunion airline, though there have been periodic rumblings in the past decade from some employees trying to organize.
A JetBlue spokesman said that Geraghty’s appointment was not related to fallout from the Slater incident. “The morale at JetBlue is excellent,” the spokesman said. “We’ve had a challenging but very positive year.”
JetBlue condemned Slater’s antics in a memo to staff and suspended the flight attendant, but avoided speaking publicly about the incident. Management simply issued a statement saying it was working with authorities on the investigation, and stressing that “at no time was the security or safety of our customers or crew members at risk.”
Geraghty said Friday, September 17, that her goal is keep JetBlue’s 13,000 employees focused on the airline’s mission to “bring humanity back to air travel. Every crew member has a voice and the opportunity to help shape their experience, and all crew members and crew leaders are valued, appreciated and understand their role in the company’s success.”