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Former JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes will join Airbus as the company’s North American leader.

Hayes, JetBlue’s CEO for nine years, stepped down from the post on February 12. Hayes will take over the role of chairman and chief executive officer of Airbus Americas from Jeff Knittel, who announced his retirement on Monday.

Hayes’ appointment comes at an important time for Airbus, as the European plane manufacturer seeks to win business from its American competitor Boeing after a series of missteps by its rival.

Airbus reported record annual jet orders in 2023, but in a statement Monday, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury hinted at plans for further expansion in North America.

“Together with the leadership team we’re looking forward to having Robin and his vast industry experience onboard to further deliver on our strategic objectives for the region across all the Airbus businesses and further grow our North American footprint,” Faury said in a statement.

The announcement of Hayes’ Airbus appointment comes just over two months after he left JetBlue, which has a fleet of Airbus planes. Hayes said that the decision was made based on the advice of his doctor and after speaking with his wife.

“The extraordinary challenges and pressure of this job have taken their toll,” Hayes said in a January statement. “It’s time I put more focus on my health and well-being.”

In a statement Monday, Hayes said he was excited and energized to join Airbus after taking time off.

As chairman and CEO of the North American business, Hayes will lead Airbus’ commercial aircraft business and oversee the company’s helicopters and space and defense business in the region.

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