JetBlue Hits Air Pocket after CFO Quits

The carrier’s stock plummets to a new low as Ed Barnes follows former CEO David Neeleman out the door.
Stephen TaubNovember 12, 2007

JetBlue Airways investors apparently were spooked when John Harvey resigned as CFO on Thursday. The next day, the airline’s stock price dropped 9 percent to an all-time-low $7.04, down about 80 percent from its high several years ago.

Harvey left to pursue other professional interests, the company said in a statement. Ed Barnes, senior vice president of finance and principal accounting officer, was named interim CFO.

Barnes has been with JetBlue since 2006 and was appointed to his senior vice president on October 1. He previously worked for two other airlines, Southwest and America West.

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Harvey is the second top executive to leave the reeling airline in less than a year. Last winter, founder David Neeleman resigned as CEO after outraged customers suffered nearly 1,700 flight cancellations as a result of two storms.

Harvey’s departure, however, took Wall Street by surprise. Morgan Stanley airline analyst William Greene called the news unexpected and negative for the company’s stock, according to the Associated Press.

And David McKenzie of Credit Suisse called Harvey’s departure a “messy” event for JetBlue, the AP reported. “Two sudden, sequential management changes (ill-timed at that given a turbulent macroeconomic backdrop) this year raises questions of leadership stability at JetBlue,” he told the wire service.