Even with the CAB protection and mail route supplements, the men listed above had the knowledge and drive to essentially create an industry from scratch. Seeing opportunities to expand and grow. For the men you listed, there are a number of airline CEO's that are forever forgotten because they did not succeed as the Woolman's and Rickenbacker's did.
I would like to believe that the pioneers of the industry would thrive in today's environment, but I doubt it, as the nature of the business, and the nature of business in general has changed. In the drive to ever increase profits in the deregulated industry, I feel they would have fallen prey to the same market forces that drive the industry today.
They're biggest asset at the time as the loyalty of most their employees. Something most the CEO's or today's airlines (and corporations in general) do not have, with the possible exception of Jetblue and Southwest. I would also like to think that these guys would also take a pay cut, for the airlines survival, instead of a $500M bonus when the company did not make a profit.
As i'm starting ramble, i'll end on this thought. Trippe, Hughs, Woolman, Rickenbacker and the like also would (IMHO) have a more vested interest in the success of the airline, as opposed to just making a bank role. Its almost that they are the fathers watching and steering a childs growth and development. And a s parent who would do anything to keep their children healthy and prospering, they would make the sacrifices that most modern CEO's will not. Again, IMHO, i think the best modern equivalents to a Trippe or Rickenbacker are Kelleher and Neeleman... and they've done really well so far in a "poor" economy. (Granted many variables involved and grossly oversimplifying)
I hope i didn't bore you all. Later
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