scalebuilder
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The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 08, 2006 10:36 am

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
Go the extra mile......and avoid the traffic!!!
 
LONGisland89
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 08, 2006 11:53 am

Best: AMR's Bob Crandall

Worst: AMR's Don Carty

 twocents 
 
boeingguy1
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:18 pm

I was always a fan of one Mr. Willie Walsh
Gatwick South! Id rather crash in Brighton!
 
united319
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:27 pm

Best: Pat Patterson of UAL
Worst: well Leo Mullin started off good but hes going down with his company
It's Time To Fly
 
dc10s4ever
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 4:52 am

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.
 
deltagator
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 5:41 am

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."
 
piercey
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 6:06 am

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.
 
ZKSUJ
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:02 am

Best IMO would be Ralph Norris
 
September11
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:10 am

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
 
turnit56N
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:38 am

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.
Aviation is not so much a profession as it is a disease.
 
egmcman
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 3:23 pm

Sir Rod Eddington & Michael O'Leary should be added to the best CEO's
 
scalebuilder
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 09, 2006 11:44 pm

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.
Go the extra mile......and avoid the traffic!!!
 
dtwclipper
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Mon Jul 10, 2006 1:10 am

Best:

Juan T. Trippe

Maybe:
Harding Lawrence

Worst:

Ed Acker
Compare New York Air, the Airline that works for your Business
 
BA787
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Mon Jul 10, 2006 3:33 am

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
 
ha787
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:40 pm

the best David Neeleman from jet blue!
 airplane   airplane   airplane 


no worst airline ceo's!
 
n8076u
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:54 pm

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...
 
A330Fan1
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:24 am

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)
 
Jeremy
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:39 am

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.
 
PanAm747
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Thu Jul 13, 2006 4:13 am

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!
 
Lucky42
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Fri Jul 14, 2006 1:40 pm

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......
 
jfk69
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Fri Jul 14, 2006 1:43 pm

Worst would have to go to Morris Nachtomi.......
 
wrighbrothers
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Fri Jul 14, 2006 5:41 pm

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..
 
captaink
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:11 pm

Best - Doug Parker US / HP
Worst - Conrad Aleong BW
There is something special about planes....
 
TPAnx
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:38 am

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
 
MEA-707
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:34 am

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?
 
DL4EVR
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sun Jul 16, 2006 5:04 am

Quoting DeltaGator (Reply 5):
What about good old Frank Borman followed by Frank Lorenzo at Eastern?

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.
We Love To Fly And It Shows.
 
dw747400
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Mon Jul 17, 2006 11:40 am

Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 9):
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.

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 and never were at the top of the industry like Lorenzo.

Anyway, Lorenzo would need to be #1 on the bad list--others have been incompetent, but I can't think of anyone who had the power he did to ruin MANY peoples lives, and the immorality to do so without thinking twice.

For the best? Herb Kelleher has got to be up there--Gordon Bethune is pretty close. I also like George Warde (CO) a lot, though his name is often forgotten. Of course, arguably his biggest contribution wasn't as a CEO, but as the man who broke Airbus into the US market.
CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
 
MattRB
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:48 am

Quoting Scalebuilder (Thread starter):
Gordon Bethune at CO stands for me as one of the most visionary of all airline CEOs in all of aviation history.

 bigthumbsup  A guy I'd want to work for.

Quoting Turnit56N (Reply 9):
Frank Lorenzo....the man who destroyed every airline he touched

Canada has that in Michel Leblanc (Royal, JetsGo)

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 1):
Worst: AMR's Don Carty

Whom, if memory serves, is now part of the team at Porter..
Aviation is proof that given, the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible.
 
COEXpilot
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Fri Jul 28, 2006 5:23 pm

Quoting Scalebuilder (Thread starter):
Gordon Bethune at CO

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 dad signed on with CO in the Lorenzo era. He twisted CO in many directions. But who cares. Everyone hated him.
Workin Hard and Flying Right with my eyes on the prize. Retirement.
 
ANCFlyer
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Fri Jul 28, 2006 5:51 pm

Worst???

Neil Bergt, Western Airlines . . . sold outy to DL
Carl Ichan - nuf said.

Best???

Bethune
FOR THOSE THAT FOUGHT FOR IT, FREEDOM HAS A FLAVOR THE PROTECTED WILL NEVER KNOW OR UNDERSTAND
 
AirScoot
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:06 pm

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.
 
COEXpilot
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:22 am

Quoting AirScoot (Reply 30):
Juan Trippe

Haha. Yes.

No saint indeed
Workin Hard and Flying Right with my eyes on the prize. Retirement.
 
vatveng
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Sat Jul 29, 2006 3:15 am

Quoting Captaink (Reply 22):
Best - Doug Parker US / HP

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 profitable quarter, which is encouraging, but US-East has a long way to go. Mr. Parker needs to spend a couple of weeks in Philly.
 
1stfl94
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:44 am

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 anyone have his name? Thanks
 
Leskova
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Mon Jul 31, 2006 4:41 am

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 bankrupcy because there was no legal basis for an airline to declare bankrupcy at that time... and he began the long task of turning a complete mess of a state run carrier into one of the world's most profitable and best known airlines.

Lufthansa

As much as I may dislike the airline at times, I certainly think he's quite deserving of the top spot of the list of best airline CEOs.
Smile - it confuses people!
 
scalebuilder
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Mon Jul 31, 2006 9:40 am

Quoting Leskova (Reply 34):
Lufthansa

As much as I may dislike the airline at times, I certainly think he's quite deserving of the top spot of the list of best airline CEOs.

This is interesting.

I would love to read up on this further. Any links out there with further detail and elaboration?

Thanks!

Scalebuilder
Go the extra mile......and avoid the traffic!!!
 
N231YE
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Tue Aug 08, 2006 9:49 am

Quoting PanAm747 (Reply 18):
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.

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 firsts in aviation, and helped TWA is some places. But he also screwed TWA in some respects, until he lost control of his airline in the '60s.
 
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alaskaqantas
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:03 am

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 retired April 2004.
~Cheers-
~~Kyle H.
to some people the sky is the limit, to aviation enthusiasts, its home!
 
AussieItaliano
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Tue Aug 08, 2006 12:22 pm

For best, I'll have to go with Juan Trippe.

For worst, it's a tie between Lorenzo and Icahn.
Third Runway - LHR, Second Runway - LGW, Build Them Both!!!
 
FURUREFA
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Tue Aug 08, 2006 10:03 pm

Best: Bob Crandall
Worst: Icahn

Matt
 
ualcsr
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RE: The Best And The Worst Airline CEO In History

Wed Aug 09, 2006 12:09 pm

Don't know about best, but I lived through the Goodwin years at UA and he was awful.

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