Scalebuilder From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Posted (6 years 10 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 6303 times:
To lead any company in the transportation sector is no easy task. The industry is cyclical, unionized and highly competitive. Though some CEOs really "gets it" when it comes to providing the lead and the vision for an airline , and many just don't.
Gordon Bethune at CO stands for me as one of the most visionary of all airline CEOs in all of aviation history. To come up with the worst and the biggest failures should be easier as the number of choices are greater, but ultimately the task gets harder due to that. Carl Icahn at TWA comes to mind..
September11 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 3623 posts, RR: 23 Reply 8, posted (6 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6237 times:
Best airline CEO in history? It has to be either Herb Kelleher or Eddie Rickenbacker.
As for worst airline CEO in history, I would change the category "worst airline CEO in history" to "most disliked CEO in history". With that, Francisco Anthony Lorenzo is the most disliked airline CEO as far as I am concerned.
Turnit56N From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 9, posted (6 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6232 times:
Worst: I can't believe it took until reply 5 before someone mentioned Frank Lorenzo....the man who destroyed every airline he touched. The only person that I know of who the government has declared unfit to run an airline, and who has been officially prohibited from managing one.
Best: I think there have been several great airline CEOs. Maybe not many that are currently running airlines, but there were many in aviation history. The afore-mentioned Eddie Rickenbacker, and more recently Gordon Bethune. Overall though, Herb Kelleher deserves this prize for running an airline that is very profitable, has amazing labor/management relations, and now has the highest paid pilots (in their type) at a time when other US airlines are struggling, having labor issues, and slashing employee wages. You may or may not like WN, but you have to admit that's an admirable record.
Scalebuilder From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 11, posted (6 years 10 months 2 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 6195 times:
Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 9): Worst: I can't believe it took until reply 5 before someone mentioned Frank Lorenzo....the man who destroyed every airline he touched. The only person that I know of who the government has declared unfit to run an airline, and who has been officially prohibited from managing one.
Sorry for sounding ignorant, but what is this guy up to these days? Is he still around?
I can certainly agree that his track record should be of no envy to anyone.
Herb Kelleher certainly deserves praise. I think we can credit this guy for successfully defining low cost air travel. His greatest success is that he decided to stick with this and perfect the strategy.
Gordon Bethune still stands out in my mind as one of the greatest of all times. He managed to rebuild CO to a premier mainline carrier from the dilapitated scraps that once defined this airline. His book on this topic is almost 8 years old, but still good and relevant reading.
PanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 10 Reply 18, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6082 times:
There is a special place in hell reserved for Carl Icahn.
TWA employees literally had a choice equivalent to choosing their favorite Manson family member - Carl Icahn, or Frank Lorenzo. Frank Lorenzo was the devil they knew, and Icahn was the devil they didn't. In the end, Icahn mismanaged, ignored, and bled the company dry, selling off ANYTHING profitable while keeping old and inefficient aircraft around.
When TWA FINALLY got rid of Icahn, he exacted a revenge worthy of a comic-book super-villain like Lex Luthor - the infamous Karabu agreement. Icahn's company got a piece of every ticket TWA sold that transitted STL. In the end, TWA couldn't survive.
Minor poetic justice - Icahn whined and complained when he lost his court case trying to apply the Karabu agreement to AA. AA said they only bought the assets, not taking over the airline, so Karabu didn't apply.
As much as I despise Frank Lorenzo, Carl Icahn is worse.
Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
TPAnx From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1021 posts, RR: 1 Reply 23, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 5996 times:
Best: Kelleher of SWA (anyone who lists projectile vomiting as one of his talents has to be a good guy...and though I don't love SW, you have to admire its sucess.)
Worst: Lorenzo (Knew too many Eastern people during the bad times)
MEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4117 posts, RR: 37 Reply 24, posted (6 years 10 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 5993 times:
Albert Plesman of KLM did a pretty good job building a world class airline twice, (starting in 1919 and rebuilding it after 1945) considering how small and relatively backwards the Netherlands were in the early 20th Century.
As a kid I used to adore John Block who started Transavia, but I later saw how arrogant and airheady he was when trying to do it again with Air Holland.
The guy at Swissair around 1998-2001, Loepfe? should be in the worst top 10 as well.
nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
25 DL4EVR: Traveling a lot on DL, I've talked to several ex-EA flight attendants. By the way they talk, Lorenzo should have a body guard with him 24/7.
26 Dw747400: I know of at least one other (operated a part 121 on a 135 certificate), and I'd be there are several more--most of them are operating small airlines
27 MattRB: A guy I'd want to work for. Canada has that in Michel Leblanc (Royal, JetsGo) Whom, if memory serves, is now part of the team at Porter..
28 COEXpilot: Gordon was a douchebag. But he kept our group steady. Best=Robert F. Six.. represent early CO years. Worst is wrong Most disliked=FRANK LORENZO. My d
29 ANCFlyer: Worst??? Neil Bergt, Western Airlines . . . sold outy to DL Carl Ichan - nuf said. Best??? Bethune
30 AirScoot: I'll put in my 2c for it being a tie between Icahn and Lorenzo. My favorite - though he as certainly no saint - has to be Juan Trippe.