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The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History  
User currently offlineScalebuilder From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 9668 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..

Any further thoughts on successes and failures?

Cheers!

Scalebuilder

40 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineLONGisland89 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 735 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 9647 times:

Best: AMR's Bob Crandall

Worst: AMR's Don Carty

 twocents 


User currently offlineBoeingguy1 From Ireland, joined Jan 2006, 415 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 9629 times:

I was always a fan of one Mr. Willie Walsh


Gatwick South! Id rather crash in Brighton!
User currently offlineUnited319 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 522 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 9626 times:
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Best: Pat Patterson of UAL
Worst: well Leo Mullin started off good but hes going down with his company



It's Time To Fly
User currently offlineDc10s4ever From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 9618 times:

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 1):
Best: AMR's Bob Crandall

Worst: AMR's Don Carty

Agreed, dont forget CR Smith, he was also a great CEO.


User currently offlineDeltaGator From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 6341 posts, RR: 13
Reply 5, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 9619 times:

Quoting United319 (Reply 3):
Worst: well Leo Mullin started off good but hes going down with his company

News Flash: Mullin has been gone for a while now. I won't argue the fact he was a crappy CEO.

What about good old Frank Borman followed by Frank Lorenzo at Eastern?

[Edited 2006-07-08 22:42:22]


"If you can't delight in the misery of others then you don't deserve to be a college football fan."
User currently offlinePiercey From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 2233 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 9606 times:

Either Walsh or Bethune in the great camp, and Lorenzo and Steenland in the bad camp.


Well I believe it all is coming to an end. Oh well, I guess we are gonna pretend.
User currently onlineZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 7092 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 9593 times:

Best IMO would be Ralph Norris

User currently offlineSeptember11 From United States of America, joined May 2004, 3623 posts, RR: 21
Reply 8, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 9602 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.



Airliners.net of the Future
User currently offlineTurnit56N From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 9597 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.


User currently offlineEgmcman From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2005, 898 posts, RR: 8
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9572 times:

Sir Rod Eddington & Michael O'Leary should be added to the best CEO's

User currently offlineScalebuilder From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 9560 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.


User currently offlineDtwclipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 9548 times:

Best:

Juan T. Trippe

Maybe:
Harding Lawrence

Worst:

Ed Acker


User currently offlineBA787 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 2006, 2596 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (8 years 1 month 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 9532 times:

Best Willie Walsh, Richard Branson Malcom O'leary (pains me to say the last two

Worst: Whoevers in charge of NWA and was in charge of VARIG

lol
Tom


User currently offlineHa787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2006, 38 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 9477 times:

the best David Neeleman from jet blue!
 airplane   airplane   airplane 


no worst airline ceo's!


User currently offlineN8076U From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 425 posts, RR: 9
Reply 15, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 9470 times:

I don't know about best, as there are a few good ones that others have mentioned, and I have a hard time deciding.

But worst has got to be Lorenzo, by so much farther than anyone else. He didn't just "do a bad job" at one airline, he purposefully neglected, mismanaged and tried to destroy MANY airlines.

Chris



Don't blame me, I don't work here...
User currently offlineA330Fan1 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 856 posts, RR: 11
Reply 16, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 9456 times:

Mr Rolim, founder of TAM. brilliant guy, created a great airline with solid values (never been on it but from what i've read and heard, it's fantastic)

User currently offlineJeremy From United States of America, joined May 2001, 668 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 9455 times:

One of the worst was William A. Franke at America West.
That airline would be long gone if he had been able to stick around!



You are now free to be sexually harassed and then terminated for filing a complaint--Southwest Airlines to me.
User currently offlinePanAm747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 4242 posts, RR: 8
Reply 18, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 9447 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!
User currently offlineLucky42 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 9399 times:

I agree Icahn is a total scumbag. I think even worse than Lorenzo. But of coarse my favorite loser is Doug Steenland of nwa.....Unfortuntately I have personal experience with the latter......

User currently offlineJFK69 From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 1418 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 9397 times:

Worst would have to go to Morris Nachtomi.......

User currently offlineWrighbrothers From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2005, 1875 posts, RR: 9
Reply 21, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 9390 times:

Sir Rod Eddington, he kept one of Europe's largest airlines aflot during its worst time  Smile
Willie Walsh could be a contender.

Wrighbrothers



Always stand up for what is right, even if it means standing alone..
User currently offlineCaptaink From Mexico, joined May 2001, 5109 posts, RR: 12
Reply 22, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 9375 times:

Best - Doug Parker US / HP
Worst - Conrad Aleong BW



There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineTPAnx From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 1021 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 9361 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)
TPAnx



I read the news today..oh boy
User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4320 posts, RR: 36
Reply 24, posted (8 years 1 month 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 9358 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 Post contains links and images 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.
31 COEXpilot : Haha. Yes. No saint indeed
32 Vatveng : If he can pull off the US Airways turnaround, then he definitely deserves to be on the hero list. But I'd say the jury's still out. They had a profit
33 1stfl94 : Also the Air France CEO in the mid 90s. Basically managed to bring Air France from the absolute brink of bankruptcy to a very successful company. Does
34 Leskova : The one name that most certainly belongs to be mentioned as one of the top CEOs is Jürgen Weber: he took over an airline that had only not declared b
35 Scalebuilder : This is interesting. I would love to read up on this further. Any links out there with further detail and elaboration? Thanks! Scalebuilder
36 N231YE : I second that...Lorenzo and Icahn both are/were a disgrace to many, criminals to the others. My most questionable, Howard Hughes. He led many great f
37 Alaskaqantas : I'm not sure about best, but a good one would be Ronald F. Cosgrave first CEo and Chairman of AS, 1972-1979 then he worked on the board, he only just
38 AussieItaliano : For best, I'll have to go with Juan Trippe. For worst, it's a tie between Lorenzo and Icahn.
39 FURUREFA : Best: Bob Crandall Worst: Icahn Matt
40 Ualcsr : Don't know about best, but I lived through the Goodwin years at UA and he was awful.
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