U.S. News

JetBlue Creates New Vice Chairman Post

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JetBlue Airways appointed director Joel Peterson to the newly-created post of vice chairman.

Peterson, 60, has been a JetBlue investor and director since its 1999 inception.

According to a Security and Exchange Commission filing Thursday, Peterson will, "execute the duties delegated to the chairman of the board in his (or) her absence or in the event that the chairman resigns, retires, becomes deceased or otherwise ceases or is unable to act."

Peterson will have other tasks assigned by the board, which the filing did not detail.

JetBlue's chairman is David Neeleman, the company's founder, who served as its chief executive until he was asked to step down by the board in May. Neeleman and JetBlue were widely criticized for their handling of a February ice storm and the subsequent cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Early this month, Neeleman sold 2.5 million JetBlue shares, or 23.2 percent of his holdings, the first time he had ever sold company stock.

Separately, JetBlue adopted a change in control severance plan under which senior executives are entitled to several years salary and benefits in the event they're fired or quit within two years of a takeover.

Analysts have speculated in recent weeks that JetBlue could be a takeover candidate, though new CEO Dave Barger said in a recent interview that the company's preferred future path is to remain independent. He said JetBlue had not been approached about a takeover.

In pre-market trading Friday, JetBlue shares rose 35 cents, about 3 percent, to $11.80.