futureb6capt
Posts: 102
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2004 12:49 pm

Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 1:38 am

I know their have been similar posts to this but I am curious on who you all think is the worst airline CEO and why?

-FutureB6Capt
 
Sinlock
Posts: 1631
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2000 12:55 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 2:50 am

Lornezo and Borman had fun rapeing a few airlines. Know anyone wo has flown Eastern lately?


I'll let some of the people here that have a personal stake in it have their say.
 
PanAm747
Posts: 4713
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 4:46 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 3:37 am

Without a shadow of a doubt, Frank Lorenzo, the character study for Mr. Burns from "The Simpsons", is the all-time worst airline CEO (and most hated man) in business. Mean as a junk-yard dog but shrewd as a weasel, Lorenzo's hi-jinks make Ken Lay and Enron look like small potatoes.

If I remember right, he started with Texas International. He seemed to thrive on coming into a well-run airline, then selecting the parts that worked well and then selling them off to the highest bidder, thus ensuring the airline's financial ruin. His greatest evil delight was then demanding concessions from every part of the airline. If he got what he wanted, great - more for him, and quicker. If he didn't get what he wanted, all he had to do was work harder at ruining the company, thus ensuring its slow tortured death.

No matter how long it took, when bankruptcy eventually did arrive, "smooth-talking Frankie", as he used to be known in his first job on the streets as a deliveryman, had it all worked out that he, and only he, was the only person shielded from the bankruptcy proceedings. Are you a creditor that needs a payment? Don't talk to me, I'm just the CEO - you need to talk to the asset-less Airline! Ethics? He's never heard of the word.

After Texas International somehow took over Continental, the pattern repeated. Only the unions at finally-acquired Eastern Airlines put an end to his small-animal like torture of the airline industry. They fought him with the only tool they had that had any effect on him - publicity.

A creature like that functions only out of the public eye. But once his business practices were looked into, the spotlight was cast onto him, and his days of gobbling-up airlines and spitting out the carcasses were over. Continental has had to work very hard to pull their company off of life-support and shake off that reputation. Eastern and Texas International, RIP.

Carl Icahn would be a close second, basically because he did his thing to only one airline, but, painfully, it was one of the proudest names ever to grace the skies of the world - Trans World Airlines, the great TWA.

With a business plan much like Frank Lorenzo's, Carl Icahn changed TWA from the grande dame of the skies into Carol Burnett's character of Nora Desmond, silent screen movie star of great stature who has become a caricature of herself. While still plying many of the routes it pioneered, the legendary service became a bad joke that too many people did not find funny.

But where Lorenzo shied away from controversy, Icahn didn't mind it - in fact, he knew that if the unions protested too much, he could rely on public sympathy...I mean, no one wants to see TWA go out of business, do they? So be on my side, and tell those unions they're the ones ruining the airline - I'm just trying to save it!

One of his final acts merits special attention - when it became apparent that his days as CEO were numbered, he made a deal with the Devil SO evil even a Disney villan would have been horrified to ensure TWA's downfall. For every ticket TWA sold routing a passenger through Saint Louis, his own private company would receive in the neighborhood of 40%. Every passenger, every ticket. How is a company going to survive that?

Interestingly, that didn't last long - when American bought the assets of TWA, the contract was voided. Icahn tried to say that since American bought TWA, they're libel to fulfill that contract, but a judge sayed no. At least nobody profited on THAT bankruptcy.

I cannot remember the CEO's name, but America West Airlines barely squeaked through an encounter with him. Kind of like a brush with malaria.

His business plan was to overextend the airline, knowing that it would eventually break. Warnings of doom? Brushed off with the "we're a low fare airline". Stranded passengers? They should have read the fine print. But much like Continental, one good move by the board to replace a raving incompetent with a man (or woman - I'd love to see that happen!) of vision has brought this airline back from the brink.

Let's hope those are the only big three in the pantheon of cartoon-level evil airline CEO's.
Pan Am:The World's Most Experienced Airline - P(oor) S(ailor's) A(irline): San Diego's Hometown Airline-Catch Our Smile!
 
Moolies
Posts: 476
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2003 2:59 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 3:42 am

Don't even let me get started on Coleman Andrews, the idiot. He was at SAA.
 
wgw2707
Posts: 1110
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:37 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:29 am

Lorenzo was certainly not the worst airline CEO, just the most-despised. Lorenzo had an intimate understanding of the workings of the airline industry, was a pioneer in introducing lower fares, and did a reasonably good job managing the airlines under his control. His assistant Phil Bakes successfully turned Continental around in bankruptcy, turning it into a healthy and profitable airline (unfortunately this was then comprimised when the "Big Bang" that merged People Express, Frontier and New York Air into CO undermined the airline's ability to operate efficiently). Lorenzo's fare slashing was hugely popular with the consumer at the time, and I'm sure many people flew for the first time thanks to the lower fares he offered on his airlines. His problem however was he had no sense of how to manage human relationships. He tended to treat all of his employees (including management) like dirt at least part of the time, and infuriated the unions to the point where massive anti-Lorenzo campaigns were conducted. This ultimately wrecked his planned revitalization of Eastern.

/////////////////////

Probably the worst airline CEO was Carl Icahn, who made a killing of and off of TWA.

///////////////////

Some other CEOs who made huge mistakes or were hugely unethical and are also contenders for the dubious honor of Worst Airline CEO:

*Ed Acker - Though he and Lawrence led Braniff to spectacular success, his Air Florida operation was a joke in terms of safety and pilot competence and he just about wrecked Pan Am with fare war after ridiculous fare war at a a time that Pan Am needed more intensive reforms in other areas.

*Jimmy Goodwin - Briefly the head of United, his mismanagement was in all probability a contributing factor to that company's bankruptcy. He had no idea how to run an airline.

* Howard Putnam - As much responsible for the failure of Braniff as Harding Lawrence. His "cost cutting" and "reforms" caused unit revenue to drop 23% (unit costs dropped by only 9%). It proved that turning an airline into Southwest is never a good way to try and save it.

* Philippe Bruggisser - orchestrator of the flawed "Qualiflyer Group" expansion strategy (buy a controlling interest in several airlines and restructure them along Swissair's proven business model) which was directly responsible for the demise of Swissair and a contributing factor to the collapse of Sabena and AOM.

There are many other bad CEOs but those are some of the worst, in my opinion.

-WGW2707
 
andz
Posts: 7627
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:49 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 4:34 am

Moolies I have friends who would use a stronger word than "idiot" for Coleman Andrews, not to mention the twat who appointed him!
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
 
Spoon04
Posts: 179
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 11:15 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 5:18 am

Let us not forget the ultimate carpetbagger, Steven Wolf - the only CEO who could single-handedly cause the collapse of any airline he touched. And not only did Wolf leave a track record of destruction where ever he went, he made sure that he conveniently bailed before those companies morphed into mushroom clouds. And when he DID bail, Wolf made sure he was "compensated" most generously with millions of dollars from the coffers of those collapsed carriers. Yeah, a real genuine guy......
 
m404
Posts: 1875
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 4:43 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 7:13 am

Any votes for Alfred Chechi's sucking power when it comes to draining a bank account. Say Northwest for instance.
Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
schweizair
Posts: 138
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 4:54 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:13 pm

I think any CEO who commits a blunder that drives the airline into the ground is bad enough for everyone! I do admit Bruggisser might be the all-time worst. My dad still personally blames him for the death of Swissair.
 
ramerinianair
Posts: 1452
Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 6:03 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 12:31 pm

"Probably the worst airline CEO was Carl Icahn, who made a killing of and off of TWA."
Hands down the worst CEO and a terrible man. He made that Karabu agreement that crippled TWA and even with a competant CEO - Compton and a good cost structure towards the late 90's, they couldn't make money. He lead to the demise of TWA and the loss of many people's jobs.

-S.R.

W N = my Worst Nightmare!!!!!
 
EAL757
Posts: 176
Joined: Mon Apr 12, 2004 9:58 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:16 pm

Lorenzo...hands down. he stole from Eastern to build up Continental! Anybody remember Eastern's electronic ticketing system? What happened to it? Stolen--don't think for a second these guys like Jet Blue are pioneering ticketing systems (with their emphasis on the internet etc.) ...Eastern got the ball rolling and Lorenzo stole.

-Jeff
 
User avatar
Plane Holland
Posts: 453
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2000 8:27 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 10:27 pm

Leo van Wijk..

need I say more...

rgds, Plane Holland

(yes, I think I do need to say more...  Smile

...for selling the World's first airline to another airline.. which is typically Dutch at the moment. We've had a history with building our nation and now sell them because WE HAVE SUCH GREAT MANAGERS !!!!!!
And bring in those bonusses for the management at the top for selling the airline.. And fire some more staff and no payrise for the FA's and all those hard working people)
 
NWAFA
Posts: 1843
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 10:30 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Mon Apr 12, 2004 11:40 pm

Lorenzo is and was the worst!

Checchi and Wilson at NWA are close.

Dasburg-former NWA is a close 3rd

Anderson- number 4

Wolf- number 5

Colleen from WN is getting up there.
THANK YOU FOR FLYING NORTHWEST AIRLINES, WE TRULY APPRECIATE YOUR BUSINESS!
 
isitsafenow
Posts: 3413
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2004 9:22 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:31 am

I can't agree on Lorenzo..heres why. He ran Texas Air, a holding company that owned EA and CO. He put lots of money in Texas Air coffers at EA and CO expense. He did his job. He was a villain, a dishonest John, a snake, a J. R. Ewing but he did his job and did it well..... at everyone elses expense. He left Texas Air as a very weathy man. He succeeded. EA Didn't and that made him rich.
Difficult as it is to understand, that's what happened.

The worst Airline C E O was the guy that ran Amercia West and just HAD TO HAVE those 747's. That was perhaps the biggest airline blunder of the 80's and 90's.

Howard Putnam joined a sinking ship and he admitted it. There was a TV film about Putnam a few years back and if you saw it you would see the "Titanic had already hit the iceberg". The company was only to hold up for 10 to 12 months when he hired on from SW but it lasted about 18, so he did a fine job keeping the ship afloat as long as he did.

Dasberg didn't know much of anything about the airline biz and it showed.
Checci is one smart dude, if you like finance. Notice I didn't say the Airline business.
safe
If two people agree on EVERYTHING, then one isn't necessary.
 
aguilo
Posts: 237
Joined: Fri Apr 02, 2004 4:52 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:37 am

Lorenzo and whoever is running USAir have got to be my votes for the two worst CEOs of ANY Fortune 500 company, with UAL's former boss not far behind.
 
ckfred
Posts: 4734
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2001 12:50 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 4:48 am

As much as people despise Frank Lorenzo, and rightfully so, he did understand the airline business. He just wanted an empire, rather than running a small airline, and he didn't mind angering every last employee.

Carl Icahn is the worst. His career was built on trying to take over companies, and then getting paid off by a white knight. That's how Marshall Field's wound up become part of British-American Tobacco.

At TWA, no one was willing to become a white knight. So Icahn wound up owning an airline, and he had no clue how to run it. I read years ago that VPs kept trying to get him to order new airplanes. He could not understand how spending billions on new airplanes would save money in the long run (no F/Es, less maintenance, better fuel consumption), so he kept flying the old L-1011s, 747s, 727s, and DC-9s.

I would also put Steve Wolf in the catagory. His whole career was spent trying to show Robert Crandall that he could rise to something better than VP of American's western division, but he ruined a lot of airlines by trying.

Finally, Jim Goodwin has to go on the list. First, he was installed by the unions. I don't mean to disparage unions, but letting employees pick their boss is a bad idea. Back in the late 80s, I saw a list of coaches that NFL players would least like to play for: Don Shula, Tom Landry, and Mike Ditka. And how many division, conference, and Super Bowl titles did they win collectively?

Second, I think Goodwin was over his head. I don't think he had been groomed enough for the job.

Third, because he was picked by the unions, he didn't play hardball with the pilots in 2000. Instead of trying to get a court order to end the overtime refusal, he gave the pilots a contract that the industry bemoaned. DL is still suffering, because it topped UA's contract by 1%.

Last, rather than trying to fix UA's operations and image problems, Goodwin tries to buy US.
 
m404
Posts: 1875
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 4:43 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 7:14 am

NWAFA

Sounds like everyone you've worked for fares poorly in your eyes. I definitely agree on the two grafters at Wings Inc,. They never even said they could run an airline. Why state the obvious? I wonder however what you see as so bad about Anderson and Dasberg. Remember they had the task of trying to pull back together the pile that those others left behind.

I must say that any reasons you have to dislike Anderson could very well pale before this concession round is done. CEOs have to be hardnosed and with todays financial climate it's going to get rough.

Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
aerohottie
Posts: 706
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2004 3:52 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 7:53 am

Sir Selwyn Cushing.... Ansett Australia and almost Air New Zealand.
What?
 
ElkGrove
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2003 12:59 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 7:59 am

CkFred-

I have to add my comment about Jim Goodwin, in response to your statements made in Reply 15. I am by no means saying that Jim Goodwin was a great or even mediocre CEO, though I would hardly say that he should be on the same list as such characters as Frank Lorenzo, Carl Icahn or even Steve Wolf.

While he was promoted to CEO with the graces of our unions, trying to install any company leader without the approval of 55% of the shareholders is near impossible. At the time his appointment, he was seen as a step forward in company-labor relations after several straining years. Jim Goodwin was a compromise, as he was well regarded by shareholders, management and the employee-owners.

I will admit though that he was the perfect example of the Peter Principle at work. He was an excellent senior manager though he did not have the skills to develop a strong core strategy in changing times, a skill required by CEO’s. The US Airways merger and Avolar are perfect examples of this failed strategy. I had the misfortune of being assigned to the Avolar unit for several months until I moved to a higher position back at United. Part of the problem was the he let himself be misled by some rather horrible advisors. I feel that an equal amount of blame for operational problems be put on the person responsible for such matters, our former President, Rono Dutta.

"Third, because he was picked by the unions, he didn't play hardball with the pilots in 2000."

This statement could not be more inaccurate. The summer of 2000 was precisely the result of his playing hardball with the pilots union. After months of cancelled flights and thousands of angry customers it was decided that the impact of a significant pay increase could be no worse than the present situation. The ironic part is that when management finally became willing to negotiate in the range that the pilots were asking, the negotiators for the unions thought that it was just another series of false promises from the company team and refused to listen to us. This forced management to agree to an almost verbatim contract to what the pilots proposed; the union was in disbelief. The fact that we would agree to such terms, which even the union later admitted were far loftier than their goal, was quite shocking after our initial unwillingness to discuss even close to what they wanted. We played hardball and blinked.

Jim Goodwin was by no means a good CEO, but at the same time I have trouble with his being on the worst list. Jim is a truly compassionate individual and he cared immensely about his company and its employees. I am sure that if you were to speak with him now he would express regrets for any detrimental decisions that he made. Try saying the same thing for Carl, Frank or Steve.

-ElkGrove
 
elwood64151
Posts: 2410
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2002 10:22 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 8:21 am

* Howard Putnam - As much responsible for the failure of Braniff as Harding Lawrence. His "cost cutting" and "reforms" caused unit revenue to drop 23% (unit costs dropped by only 9%). It proved that turning an airline into Southwest is never a good way to try and save it.

Putnam also made a lot of mistakes inasmuch as he didn't understand what the real money-making part of his operation was: DFW. It was basically the "naturally grown" DFW hub that kept Braniff in business prior to deregulation, much like Delta's naturally existing ATL hub. The difference was DL realized it. Let's face it: All the multi-colored fleets in the world won't make money if the routes don't make money. Putnam didn't see it.

Plane holland:

It's not just the Dutch. We see plenty of that here in the States. One might argue we invented it back in the '70s.

While I realize most of you aren't aware of him, Robert J. "Rocky" Spane had to be the worst airline CEO in history. While he managed to keep finding money to keep NJ operating, he managed to lose over $100M in four years as President & CEO, one of thos years nearly breaking even. Spane managed a crew that picked cities based on little more than feeling, then dropped those cities when they didn't work out. Frequently, they'd try two or three times to make service to that city work. Additionally, he tried to set up a hub at MDW using one full-time gate and one borrowed from WN. I've heard from many people who worked at Corporate that he was frequently so inebriated as to be incoherent.

Without the reforms set up by Jeff Potter and later Scott Dickson, NJ would have collapsed months after his departure, rather than two years later.

Regards,
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.
 
FRA2DTW
Posts: 236
Joined: Wed Feb 11, 2004 6:51 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:47 am

If you just want to consider sheer incompetence, T. Coleman Andrew is right up there. Before the disaster at SAA, he almost drove World Airways into the history books. Yet somehow he managed to walk away from both shipwrecks much enriched, unfortunately.
 
rootsgirl
Posts: 512
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2001 3:48 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:57 am

Robert Milton - Air Canada...too long to list what he has done and is still doing! Fire his ass now!
 
B757capt
Posts: 1301
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:11 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:21 pm

Surprised I haven't see Richard (Dick) Anderson from NWA up here yet.
The views written by this user are in no manner the views of my employer and should not be thought as such.
 
sccutler
Posts: 5582
Joined: Thu Jan 27, 2000 12:16 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:26 pm

WGW2707 has some of the best historical observations about Francisco Lorenzo I have read in a long time. Say what you will, he saved two airlines (Texas International and Continental), and the jobs of those at two others (Frontier and PeoplExpress).

EAL was worm food before Texas Air touched it (the IAM made certain of that), and if assets were bought by Texas Air for bargain prices, well, it did not affect Eastern's survival, only the amount for distribution to creditors in the liquidation.

===

As for the original question, I vote for Harding Lawrence.

Good night.
...three miles from BRONS, clear for the ILS one five approach...
 
nwcoflyer
Posts: 677
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2003 7:55 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:29 pm

B757capt,

Please state why you think Anderson isn't on here yet. He surley is the better of the last 4 or 5 CEOs at NW, and overall, he definatley is one of the best at the majors right now.
The New American is arriving.
 
StevenUhl777
Posts: 3281
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2001 11:02 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:49 pm

Well, Frank Lorenzo is in a class by himself. It will always be that way.

ElkGrove: Thanks for the insight on Jim Goodwin...at least he felt bad for his failures, whereas Wolf certainly didn't. Wolf was a businessman to the bone, and while not quite Lorenzo-level, he saw $ signs first before anything else. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe UAL petitioned the court to terminate the lifelong benefit packages awarded to Wolf, et. al, valued at $16mm.



And the winner for best actress is....REESE WITHERSPOON for 'Walk the Line'!!!!!!!!
 
User avatar
yyz717
Posts: 15689
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 12:26 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 12:54 pm

Robert Milton, AC. He took an airline with an 85% domestic market share and 100% of intl Canadian route authority from profit to bankruptcy in less than 4 years. AC is now close to liquidation. Canada is a wealthy nation with a widely disbursed population.....perhaps criteria for a heathly national carrier. The man is a walking incompetent corporate disaster.



I dumped at the gybe mark in strong winds when I looked up at a Porter Q400 on finals. Can't stop spotting.
 
USAIRWAYS321
Posts: 1706
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2001 4:31 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 1:11 pm

It's Stephen Wolf hands down, the man who's been with all of the following airlines during, or just before their Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or sellout:

PanAm
Republic
Flying Tiger Line
Continental
United
US Airways
 
m404
Posts: 1875
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 4:43 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 7:01 pm

B757capt

Mr Andersen's name has been forwarded I think in posting number 12 but when I also asked why in post 16 like you did, it has gone unanswered. I'm assuming it's just a case where no-one likes the messenger.
Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
Russophile
Posts: 1304
Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2004 9:22 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 10:26 pm

Just wondering why no-one has mentioned Morris Nachtomi. He is the poster child of jokes to do with Jewish fiscal 'tightness'.

CEO's such as Lorenzo and Icahn might have been bad in terms of financial operations -- deserved or undeserved reps -- but they would not have stood for having employees with general attitudes like at Tower Air.

The guys seems to be a genuine slimeball.
 
isitsafenow
Posts: 3413
Joined: Sun Feb 01, 2004 9:22 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Tue Apr 13, 2004 11:32 pm

I don't understand why NW's Anderson would be on a "bad CEO" list.
NW is weathering this storm better then the rest of the big six. CO isn't doing too bad either. So if Berthune is good and great with the job at CO, whats the beef with Anderson? NW is black and you will see this when they make a financial announcement later this month. Has anyone noticed that NW quit putting their finances on their website. They still list pax loads and load factors, traffic info galore, but no $$$$$$$ statements. Me thinks they are making hay because if they were doing poorly and loosing their shirts, they would be sticking it in the unions face bigtime.
safe
If two people agree on EVERYTHING, then one isn't necessary.
 
wgw2707
Posts: 1110
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:37 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:57 am

It's Stephen Wolf hands down, the man who's been with all of the following airlines during, or just before their Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or sellout:

PanAm
Republic
Flying Tiger Line
Continental
United
US Airways


Actually, Wolf worked at Pan Am several years before Pan Am entered into Chapter 11, in the early 1980s. When Wolf worked at Pan Am it was before the company had even sold the Pacific Division. At United, while it is possibles to consider the Employee Ownership takeover a sellout, it still fails to constitute a negative incident on the scale that you are implying. I do agree though that the fact that two of the airlines listed here he sold out and two more shortly after his departure entered into Chapter 11 is, as Stephen Wolf himself would put it, "unusual".

ElkGrove, in my own list of who I considered the worst CEOs I listed out CEOs who I considered had made extreme errors of judgement or made poor management decisions that caused problems for their airlines as opposed to the most evil CEOs. If I was going there the list would be completely different... It is actually good to note that James Goodwin cared about his employees to that degree, and its unfortunate that during his tenure at United things did not go as well as they should have.

Russophile, Morris Nachtomi was absolutely terrible and his airline was a joke, but on the same note the fact it was such a joke, that didn't matter much to air transport, makes including him on this list rather irrelevant. He didn't cause much harm to the industry or cause the bankruptcy of any great airlines with Tower Air. He just managed to annoy many consumers and employees.

Finally IMO no current Northwest executives should be on a "bad list" as NW is substantially better off financially than the rest of the network carriers.

-WGW2707
 
Thrust
Posts: 2585
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2003 12:17 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 5:59 am

Carl Icahn and Frank Lorenzo get the top two votes for me.
Fly one thing; Fly it well
 
Qb001
Posts: 1923
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2000 12:42 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:16 am

I guess, for most people, this is a thread to express a personal rant. You know, if you're a kid from, say, MSP and you happen to love NW and you don't like the fact that NW hasn't changed its DC-9 fleet or has ordered the 330, you'll say that NW's CEO is bad. To me, those are hardly convincing facts.

Most airlines run in a very competitive environment. But what if an airlines run in a not so competitive environment, and still manage to go belly-up, almost. I agree with YYZ717 (reply 26): Milton had 4 aces in his hand, and he managed to loose the game. He's bad and has got to go.

The reason he's still there is simply because no one, rightfully so BTW, wants to have his job. But if AC escapes bankruptcy, which is far from being certain, Milton will be replace.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good theory.
 
airman99o
Posts: 871
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 1999 4:15 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 6:57 am

Hey there,
Would have to say that Robert Milton is pretty close to Ichan and lorenzo. He has taken Air Canada and put her in a downward spiral. Starting two low costs to compete in canada on the same routes as main line. Re branding the regional affiliate, That cost a good bit of money. starting Tango. Man that guy is a moron. I am totally shocked that the employees haven't gotten rid of him yet. Also with the merger of the two airlines he should have concentrated on that first then gone into other areas. I could prob run that airline line better than he can.

Airman99o
Safety is Everyones Responsibility.
 
m404
Posts: 1875
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 4:43 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:25 am

Wow, that last post got me wondering if maybe Milton has a plan after all. If the two startups are running the same routes as AC and cause the bankruptcy and dissolution of them he has solved the problem. Now he still controls the market, has no debt associated with bankruptcy's rate stigma (I do Not know Canada's laws on this) he's rid of ACS unions and pensions yet he still controls the market. Since Canada has so few carriers/population this could be done there. If it works just watch how that approach will be taken elsewhere.

This is way to simple but please tell me why this scenario could not happen.
Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
727200er
Posts: 301
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 5:18 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:31 am

Just another vote for Milton here.

M404;
Yes this could happen in a way. When AC liquidates Jazz and Zip can be sold as whole units.
"they who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only at night" - Edgar Allen Poe
 
speedbudgie
Posts: 110
Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2003 11:32 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:38 am

I was never a great fan of Bob Ayling (British Airways). While I absolutely loved the world tails that came to fruition under his leadership, the fact that the unexpectedly pervasive negative British reaction was not anticipated was a huge oversight. There is a lot of often discussed 'other stuff' but that is the most significant reason for my frustrations with his leadership.

My two pence.
 
Ejazz
Posts: 689
Joined: Wed May 22, 2002 10:26 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Wed Apr 14, 2004 9:43 am

I never worked for Icahn or Lorenzo so am unable to fairly comment.

Based on actual experience it would have to be the balding idiot known as Dr Cheong, in my opinion a man without morals, an ounce of decency or concern for others. Made some horrendously bad investment decisions but refused to take responsibility. Enough, I don't want to ruin my day by remembering him.
Etihad Girl, You're a great way to fly.
 
wgw2707
Posts: 1110
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:37 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Fri Apr 16, 2004 6:11 pm

Of course Ejazz Singapore Airlines is one of the most successful airlines in history so from that standpoint alone Dr. Cheong was not a failure...however it would be interesting to learn more about his misanthropic qualities that you suggest. I myself know nothing about most of the Asian airline CEOs.

-WGW2707
 
slider
Posts: 6814
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2004 11:42 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 1:14 am

Carl Icahn.

There really is no one else in his class. Everyone else holds his jock.

Since this is a family show, I'll end this post now before I go off on a Cartman-esque rant cussing up a blue streak.

I just spit the words "Carl Icahn" out with venom.... Pissed
 
nwa man
Posts: 1752
Joined: Mon Jun 07, 1999 3:24 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 3:36 am

Richard Anderson shouldn't be near this list. Period.

His handling of the 9/11 situation in regards to his airline was impeccable, he is returning the company to profitability, he is continuing to rehire laid-off employees, and he is easily accessible to his employees and shareholders via his "Richard Reports" website, where he posts NWA general updates, his e-mail address and contact info. What more could you ask for?

Sure, he'd like the unions to make concessions, but that's a general theme in the aviation industry today (it's not like this was his idea, and it's obvious that the biggest difference between the legacy carriers and the LCCs are union costs) and as Isitsafenow intuitively pointed out, the pleas are going away (perhaps because NW is back in the black... we'll have to wait and see).

But Anderson worse than Icahn? Come on NWAFA, you'll have to back that up with some sort of evidence.



Regards,

N-Dub
Create your own luck.
 
GVROYphx
Posts: 87
Joined: Fri Apr 16, 2004 4:01 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 3:44 am

Jonathan Orstein...he should be at the top.

Why? Horrible airline/Horrible service aspect/Horrible operation...and equally Horrible person.

 
wgw2707
Posts: 1110
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:37 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 2:47 pm

Of course GVROYphx you can't deny that Mesa is also the most successful contract-operator of regional service in the country. Mesa has saved the major airlines huge amounts of money in providing the expensive regional connections and offers an extremely low cost structure. In addition, they have a record of attempting to stand up for their clients, such as when they attempted to buy out ACA to help United Airlines (and at the same time improve the security of the investments of ACA's shareholders, who suddenly found that instead of investing in a placid regional airline they had now invested in what amounted to a risky LCC-startup operation). Given the success of Mesa and the fact that they seem to care about their clients, the major network carrier, I don't think Ornstein should be on this list.

Everyone in the industry knows that Mesa's pay is substandard and I'm sure the corporate culture and "atmosphere" there is disagreeable as well, but so what? If that doesn't appeal to you as a professional get a job with a different airline-it is not as though Mesa has a monopoly.

-WGW2707
 
planespotting
Posts: 3026
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:54 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 2:54 pm

Basically the bad CEO's are in it for the shareholders, and the good CEO's are in it for the airline. Stephen Wolf was a shareholders CEO. He would come into whatever airline offered him the title, sell off unprofitable routes, get rid of airplanes, lay off staff and close stations. But by doing that he also decreased expenditures and increased profits. I'm not saying that he was a good CEO or that is anyway to run an airline, but he increased profits and the shareholders loved him. f*ck that noise
Do you like movies about gladiators?
 
wgw2707
Posts: 1110
Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2003 10:37 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 8:34 pm

Basically the bad CEO's are in it for the shareholders, and the good CEO's are in it for the airline. Stephen Wolf was a shareholders CEO. He would come into whatever airline offered him the title, sell off unprofitable routes, get rid of airplanes, lay off staff and close stations. But by doing that he also decreased expenditures and increased profits. I'm not saying that he was a good CEO or that is anyway to run an airline, but he increased profits and the shareholders loved him.

As is often posted in this forum, corporations are under legal obligation to deliver maximum value to the shareholders. They therefore are obligated to hire CEOs who will maximize profits and minimize expenditure. CEOs are sworn to run the airline under these principles. IMO any CEO who can increase profitability and reduce expense is a good CEO. If you want an example of a CEO who cared about the airline but didn't know how to manage it properly there are many examples, look at Putnam, who single-handedly killed Braniff with his idiotic "We must become Southwest" strategy which I discussed above.

I think the general consensus on this thread is that Icahn was the worst, as only he managed to combine a blend of horrifying mismanagement with a disgusting, self-centered personality and a total lack of respect for other shareholders, employees, customers and the airline that he worked for.

-WGW2707
 
bobnwa
Posts: 4472
Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2000 12:10 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 9:43 pm

Just to set the record straight, neither Checchi or Wilson were ever CEO or President of Northwest. Both of them were Chairman of the Board at various times.

Also Stephen Wolf started his airline career at AA as a cargo sales manager.
 
andz
Posts: 7627
Joined: Mon Feb 16, 2004 7:49 pm

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 11:38 pm

More about Coleman Andrews

NEW YORK – So (South African) Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe tells us that the SAA board was utterly impotent and allowed CE Coleman Andrews to turn the airline into a slot machine that dispensed nearly R600 million at his pleasure. That’s a mere R17.7 million a month or R580,000 a day from Andrews’ appointment to his resignation.

Great work. And apparently the slot machine didn’t even need to be fed anything. Just pull the lever. There are very few US airline CE’s who could walk away with $30 million for less than three years work in an unlisted company.

Already comfortably off, It was in California that he saw an opportunity in World Airways. Just into his thirties, Andrews managed to take control and raise $100 million to recapitalise it and move it “home” to Virginia from Oakland. The Andrews’ family lived in a posh suburb of McLean, Virginia near CIA headquarters. World Air has since moved to Peachtree, Georgia. Andrews had some aviation blood since his father served in World War II as a junior navigator on B17 bombers flying out of Italy.

World Air came into being just after the War with a complement of three Boeing Clipper flying boats. It subsequently earned most of its revenue from contract airlifts for the US military, some of it described as “clandestine”. The firm’s most famous military work was done during the Gulf War for which Andrews received a commendation in 1993.

When Andrews and a selected management team stepped in, World Air was in serious trouble. It had commenced scheduled flights to supplement its “wet” leasing and contract work, but that failed leaving accumulated debts of more than $200m by 1986. In 1987 World Air became a wholly owned subsidiary of WorldCorp, which was really a cash shell that listed on the NYSE [WOA]. In 1994 WorldCorp sold a 25% stake to Malaysian aviation company Naluri.

The new team plugged the leak and produced good profits, doing particularly well out of the Gulf War. By 1995 the company was doing well enough to be listed and in September 1995 it debuted on Nasdaq [NASD:WLDA] at $12 a share, falling to $1 before Andrews left in 1998.

However, by 1996 the company resumed scheduled flights and opened up routes to Tel Aviv and Johannesburg. Both are curious destinations for an airline with military connections. World Air president and CE Charles Pollard, who was working in South Africa as the World Air representative, was canned by Andrews, then chairman of both companies, for the failure of the scheduled flights which nearly put the company out of business.

By June 1998 Worldcorp was in default on bonds worth $65 million, with loans made to World Air never repaid. With creditors threatening to liquidate the company, Andrews was pushed out according to a “change of control” notice filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. WorldCorp was eventually forced into bankruptcy and its stock in World Air was distributed to creditors under court order.

WorldCorp no longer has any relationship with World Air, but Andrews' younger brother, A. Scott Andrews remains is still employed by World Air. He became a director in 1992.

Oddly, Andrews’ first SAA employment contract dates to May 1998, a month earlier than his official resignation from World Air. His departure was the result of “emergency restructuring” under which turnaround specialist Patrick Graham was appointed as replacement CE. Graham was an employee of Bain & Co., the consulting company that received millions of dollars from SAA and which is linked to Bain Capital, which Andrews helped found.

Amusingly, a political publication says Andrews moved to South Africa to “manage the state run airline for President Nelson Mandela.” Gee, who knew the former prez was such a hands-on kind of guy and that he would call up Coleman for the job.

SEC filings show that Andrews never earned more than $350,000 a year as the boss of World Air. That stands as a contradiction to the insistence by (Transnet MD Saki) Macozoma that Andrews’ South African base salary of $1 million a year was “competitive”.

While Andrews also had a complex incentive and bonus scheme with World Air, it wasn’t nearly as rewarding as the one he secured from SAA. Similarly, his handpicked lieutenants couldn’t have dreamed of earning the average $1.65 million each received had they stayed in the US.

Paragraphs selected from an article dated 15 June 2001. Full text at
http://m1.mny.co.za/LDProf.nsf/0/C2256A2A0055716142256A6C00230105?OpenDocument

Some more interesting info at http://www.suntimes.co.za/2002/07/14/lifestyle/life04.asp
After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
 
L-188
Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sat Apr 17, 2004 11:51 pm

Want to add two more names into this list.

James Flood and Neil Berght, neither of them are probably that well known outside Alaska

Flood killed Wien Air Alaska, one of the original bush airlines in what was and still is known as the "Flood of 84"

Neil Berght was the man behind "Markair"

OBAMA-WORST PRESIDENT EVER....Even SKOORB would be better.
 
elwood64151
Posts: 2410
Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2002 10:22 am

RE: Worst Airline CEO And Why

Sun Apr 18, 2004 1:11 am

Stephen Wolf was a shareholders CEO. He would come into whatever airline offered him the title, sell off unprofitable routes, get rid of airplanes, lay off staff and close stations.

Actually, this would be the definition of a bondholders' CEO. Shareholders want increases in the company's assets, not decreases, without significant debt expenditures. Bondholders only care that cash is available to pay owed interests.

And as William said, airlines are (usually) corporations, and as a result they have an obligation to the shareholders who provided the investment capital to get the company started. The only time this becomes a problem is when the corporation focuses on the 90-day return, rather than the 5-, 10-, and 20-year returns.

Cheers!
Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it in summer school.