Carl Icahn wins seats on JetBlue board after taking stake in airline

A JetBlue Airways plane prepares to take off from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Jan. 31, 2024.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Carl Icahn won his push for seats on JetBlue Airways’ board of directors, according to a statement from the airline Friday, days after disclosing a nearly 10% stake in the New York-based airline and that he was in talks for board representation there.

The two new directors are Jesse Lynn, general counsel of Icahn Enterprises, and Steven Miller, a portfolio manager of Icahn Capital.

Shares of JetBlue were up about 4% in after-hours trading following the announcement.

The JetBlue investment isn’t Icahn’s first investment in the airline industry. In one of his more infamous activist campaigns, the corporate raider took TWA private in the late 1980s, and the airline struggled and filed for bankruptcy.

Icahn said in disclosing his JetBlue stake that he believes the shares are undervalued. JetBlue’s stock is down more than 19% over the past 12 months as of Friday’s close. The NYSE Arca Airline Index, which tracks the broader sector, is up about 7% during the same period.

JetBlue’s new CEO, Joanna Geraghty, took the helm Monday, and the carrier has appointed a pair of airline veterans to get it back on track.

“Building on our distinct brand and unique value proposition, we are focused on delivering value to our shareholders and all of our stakeholders, and we welcome the contributions of our new board members as we move forward with that common goal,” Geraghty said in a statement on Friday.

JetBlue hasn’t posted a profit since before the Covid-19 pandemic and has been cutting costs, trying to become more reliable after a post-Covid travel surge and a blocked merger with budget carrier Spirit Airlines. A federal judge last month ruled against a combination of the two airlines, citing reduced competition.

JetBlue had argued it needed the tie-up to help it compete against the largest American carriers. JetBlue and Spirit are appealing the judge’s ruling.

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