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VC10er
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The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:39 am

We often give credit, both positive and negative, to the CEO of an airline. That is fair, they are at the top and the ultimate leader of their airline and in every regard, from its financial performance to quality of service and employee morale and brand image.

However we also know that there are other very senior executives who's particular role have enormous impact on many aspects of companies as complex as an airline, especially a major.

Aside from some of the most famous names like Gordon Bethune, Alex Cruz, Jeff Smisek, Juan Tripp, Akbar Al Baker, Oscar Munoz, Edward Bastian and the list goes on and on, however I'm very curious who are the others under them that have had or are having an enormous impact, positively or negatively. What are their roles and what did they do/doing? What are the positions or roles that have the most impact on an airline? (Especially what they do that we the passengers really feel?)

There has been much discussion about the impact of Scott Kirby from AA and now United and what he has been doing at UA. Who are some of the others both current and historic, who have made their mark?

Thanks
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
dstc47
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:50 am

Rather a US focused list there. Fish, Lord King, Freddie Laker, Plesman of KLM
How far back do you want to go?

Michael O'Leary of Ryanair deserves mention.
 
commavia
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:28 pm

Interesting question - I've actually thought about this before.

I'll limit my list to the U.S., because it's what I'm most familiar with, and CEOs only, and define "most influential" as having the greatest impact on the industry.

So in that context, my "top 5" "most influential" U.S. airline CEOs, ordered by the time they founded/joined the carrier with which they're most associated, would be:

* Juan Trippe (Pan Am, 1927) - formed the airline that pioneered, and in many cases literally built, the international air transportation system
* C.R. Smith (AA, 1934) - built AA into a highly-successful pre-deregulation competitor and, with his famous 1934 advertisement, brought safety to the forefront of public acceptance of air travel
* Herb Kelleher (Southwest, 1966) - obviously, built the prototype for a low fare airline that would go on to completely transform global air travel
* Bob Crandall (AA, 1973) - successfully navigated the first pivotal industry turning point of the modern era (deregulation) to build a profitable, globally competitive network carrier
* Richard Anderson (Delta, 2007) - successfully navigated the second pivotal industry turning point of the modern era (9/11) to build a huge, profitable, globally competitive network carrier
 
anshabhi
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:31 pm

The Sanjeev Kapoor of Vistara.
https://mobile.twitter.com/TheSanjivKapoor

He's the social media face of Vistara.
 
shuttle9juliet
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:36 pm

VC10er wrote:
We often give credit, both positive and negative, to the CEO of an airline. That is fair, they are at the top and the ultimate leader of their airline and in every regard, from its financial performance to quality of service and employee morale and brand image.

However we also know that there are other very senior executives who's particular role have enormous impact on many aspects of companies as complex as an airline, especially a major.

Aside from some of the most famous names like Gordon Bethune, Alex Cruz, Jeff Smisek, Juan Tripp, Akbar Al Baker, Oscar Munoz, Edward Bastian and the list goes on and on, however I'm very curious who are the others under them that have had or are having an enormous impact, positively or negatively. What are their roles and what did they do/doing? What are the positions or roles that have the most impact on an airline? (Especially what they do that we the passengers really feel?)

There has been much discussion about the impact of Scott Kirby from AA and now United and what he has been doing at UA. Who are some of the others both current and historic, who have made their mark?

Thanks


"Alex Cruz" ???
 
VC10er
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:51 pm

Perhaps my list of CEO's is a bit US skewed, but I am American and those were top of mind names- but my inquiry was less about the CEO's and more about those under them who have great influence on the airlines they work for...the positions that have real palpable influence such as (perhaps) customer service VPs who have created something amazing or ruined something amazing. Fleet managers who talked the CEO or BOD into buying the wrong aircraft, visionary people who get overlooked because they don't get the same credit as the CEO.
I guess I could have Googled the names of CEO's - (I did do that to check spellings) but not to find the name of Singapore's CEO, etc.
I do realize that everything significant must be signed off by a CEO or BOD, but who were those folks who had the innovative ideas - beyond Sir Richard Branson, etc.
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
VC10er
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 12:55 pm

Perhaps some of the famous or infamous CEO's we know today got their positions because of a position they once held, and were responsible for amazing change as commvia points out?
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
worldranger
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:09 pm

Tony Fernandez
Tim Clark
Willie Walsh
David Neeleman
Hogan (will go down in history for wrong reasons)
Richard Branson
 
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Super80Fan
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 2:19 pm

Herb Kelleher
David Neeleman
Richard Branson
C.R. Smith
Juan Trippe
Howard Hughes
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winginit
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:30 pm

VC10er wrote:
There has been much discussion about the impact of Scott Kirby from AA and now United and what he has been doing at UA. Who are some of the others both current and historic, who have made their mark?


Glad you brought this up in the OP. I very firmly believe, especially as he inevitably rises to the position of CEO at UA, that Scott Kirby will get his own chapter if Tom Petzinger ever pens Hard Landing Part II.
 
commavia
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:31 pm

winginit wrote:
I very firmly believe, especially as he inevitably rises to the position of CEO at UA, that Scott Kirby will get his own chapter if Tom Petzinger ever pens Hard Landing Part II.


:checkmark:

I sincerely hope we see Hard Landing II! :D
 
Rdh3e
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:47 pm

commavia wrote:
:checkmark:
I sincerely hope we see Hard Landing II! :D

10/10, would pre-order a dozen copies.

On the discussion, one of the more under-the-radar influencers is Glen Hauenstein. He was the architect of CO and now DL's success in the realm of Network which is where it all starts for any airline. Bad schedule = bad results.
 
juliuswong
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 3:51 pm

Alan Joyce worth a mention as well.
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stlgph
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:20 pm

Frank Lorenzo
Robert Six
Juan Trippe
William A Patterson
Richard Branson
Jack Frye
C.R. Smith
Eddie Rickenbacker
Herb Kelleher
Howard Hughes
Robert Crandall
Gordon Bethune
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J343
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:38 pm

John Slosar and Ivan Chu ex- CEOs of Cathay Pacific perhaps?
 
Rdh3e
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:38 pm

VC10er wrote:


Thanks


It seems people didn't get the whole "Other than the big names" part of this. Everyone is just reposting the top 20 most famous execs, plus the CEO of their favorite airline, over and over. Perhaps people should have to also state WHY that person was influential other than simply the title they held/hold.
 
winginit
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:06 pm

Rdh3e wrote:
commavia wrote:
:checkmark:
I sincerely hope we see Hard Landing II! :D

10/10, would pre-order a dozen copies.

On the discussion, one of the more under-the-radar influencers is Glen Hauenstein. He was the architect of CO and now DL's success in the realm of Network which is where it all starts for any airline. Bad schedule = bad results.


Very true. Richard and Ed have and will continue to get a lot of the credit for Delta's rise, but Glen has been the real commercial driving force there for years.
 
WPvsMW
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:56 pm

Top of the list of the unsung: Glen Hauenstein. Now Pres. of DL, with Ed Bastian CEO.

Glen's network and fleet planning, esp. making Long Haul Thin Route a core part of ops, literally saved CO and DL in that order. He "unlocked" the 757 from its domestic prison.
http://news.delta.com/bio-glen-hauenstein-president

Prediction: If Glen isn't the next CEO of DL, he will be CEO of another US3.
 
winginit
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:19 pm

WPvsMW wrote:
Top of the list of the unsung: Glen Hauenstein. Now Pres. of DL, with Ed Bastian CEO.

Glen's network and fleet planning, esp. making Long Haul Thin Route a core part of ops, literally saved CO and DL in that order. He "unlocked" the 757 from its domestic prison.
http://news.delta.com/bio-glen-hauenstein-president

Prediction: If Glen isn't the next CEO of DL, he will be CEO of another US3.


I know the purpose of this thread is bringing to light the 'other' guys as opposed to the primary players today, but every commercial aviation enthusiast should get their popcorn ready for a scenario where Scott and Glen take the respective helms of UA and DL. You've got two commercial masterminds with personalities, convictions, and management styles that approach Crandall levels going head to head, which is a sharp contrast to the 'Papa Bear' personas of Doug, Ed, and Oscar today. It's going to be brilliant, and purely for entertainment purposes I wish Isom were cut from a similar mold to make it a three-way street fight.
 
GripenFan
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 6:42 pm

winginit wrote:
I know the purpose of this thread is bringing to light the 'other' guys as opposed to the primary players today, but every commercial aviation enthusiast should get their popcorn ready for a scenario where Scott and Glen take the respective helms of UA and DL. You've got two commercial masterminds with personalities, convictions, and management styles that approach Crandall levels going head to head, which is a sharp contrast to the 'Papa Bear' personas of Doug, Ed, and Oscar today. It's going to be brilliant, and purely for entertainment purposes I wish Isom were cut from a similar mold to make it a three-way street fight.


Excellent post/analysis! I guess it begs the question who would best lead AA into the fight? I think Isom is a brilliant Ops guy, but I'm not sure he has the commercial acumen of Scott or Glen, and I believe a lot of AA's talent in that area followed Kirby to UA...
 
aaway
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:01 pm

Bob Baker (former AA COO) - Absolute ops whiz who was instrumental in retooling AA during a time of significant upheaval within the industry and the airline itself (late 70s/early 80s). I truly believe he would've ascended to helm AA/AMR (vs. Don Carty) had he not been in failing health when Bob Crandall retired. Had a good touch with the rank-and-file also.

(tongue-in-cheek mention) Don Carty - whose now had two opportunities to prove that innovation that makes the flying experience more pleasant doesn't generate the level of loyalty (thus revenue) to succeed on the backs of industry competitors.

(Back to serious) Leslie O. Barnes (former chief at Allegheny) - the progenitor of having a network of regional (then commuter) carriers aligned and feeding a larger partner. Barnes accomplished this at a time when most communities that - up to that time - had traditionally received air service via a large trunk carrier (AA, UA, etc.), or regional carrier with small (for the day) jet, or large (for the day) turboprops.

Whenever a carrier petitioned the CAB to drop a small community, that community typically filed lengthy protests that filled reams of paper. Along the Allegheny network, Barnes and underlings convinced most of these communities that their level of air service would actually improve as a result of increased frequency. Quite a few commuter carriers flourished as a result of the association with Allegheny.
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maortega15
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:43 pm

J343 wrote:
John Slosar and Ivan Chu ex- CEOs of Cathay Pacific perhaps?

How about Tony Tyler
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:49 pm

Rdh3e wrote:
Perhaps people should have to also state WHY that person was influential other than simply the title they held/hold.


Hugo Junkers.

He invented the full metal construction airplane that made carrying freight and passengers possible.

He also instantiated (one of) the first airlines that established the first and biggest of its time route network all over Europe
and the neighboring regions flying to fixed timetables 1919 to 1926.
One of the primary fathers of civil air transport.
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canyonblue17
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:00 pm

Is it time to put Gary Kelly on this list? He has taken Herb Kelleher's Southwest Airlines and shown nearby parts of the world that this airline is just getting started. He was also one of the key players behind the fuel hedging success that brought Southwest to the forefront of commercial travel in the US.
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:02 pm

AAB. Nuff said.
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:08 pm

One more European :
Carlos Munoz : Set up Vueling and now successful again with Volotea (Smart to start Volotea operations with probably very cheap B717)
 
rbavfan
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:21 pm

dstc47 wrote:
Rather a US focused list there. Fish, Lord King, Freddie Laker, Plesman of KLM
How far back do you want to go?

Michael O'Leary of Ryanair deserves mention.


Herb Kelleher from Southwest was left out. Really the only airline to make profit every year for 42 years. Tim Clark.
 
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Channex757
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:23 pm

Sir Maurice Flanagan, the guy who started the Emirates juggernaut.
 
rbavfan
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:06 pm

shuttle9juliet wrote:
VC10er wrote:
We often give credit, both positive and negative, to the CEO of an airline. That is fair, they are at the top and the ultimate leader of their airline and in every regard, from its financial performance to quality of service and employee morale and brand image.

However we also know that there are other very senior executives who's particular role have enormous impact on many aspects of companies as complex as an airline, especially a major.

Aside from some of the most famous names like Gordon Bethune, Alex Cruz, Jeff Smisek, Juan Tripp, Akbar Al Baker, Oscar Munoz, Edward Bastian and the list goes on and on, however I'm very curious who are the others under them that have had or are having an enormous impact, positively or negatively. What are their roles and what did they do/doing? What are the positions or roles that have the most impact on an airline? (Especially what they do that we the passengers really feel?)

There has been much discussion about the impact of Scott Kirby from AA and now United and what he has been doing at UA. Who are some of the others both current and historic, who have made their mark?

Thanks


"Alex Cruz" ???


BA exec.
 
rbavfan
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:10 pm

stlgph wrote:
Frank Lorenzo
Robert Six
Juan Trippe
William A Patterson
Richard Branson
Jack Frye
C.R. Smith
Eddie Rickenbacker
Herb Kelleher
Howard Hughes
Robert Crandall
Gordon Bethune




How can you sully this list with Frank Lorenzo. He deserved to be banned from owning/running an airline & is an insult to all the others.
 
alasizon
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:30 pm

rbavfan wrote:
stlgph wrote:
Frank Lorenzo
Robert Six
Juan Trippe
William A Patterson
Richard Branson
Jack Frye
C.R. Smith
Eddie Rickenbacker
Herb Kelleher
Howard Hughes
Robert Crandall
Gordon Bethune




How can you sully this list with Frank Lorenzo. He deserved to be banned from owning/running an airline & is an insult to all the others.


Influential isn't just good, its certainly bad as well.

That being said, I think Glen definitely is the most current influential executive but Scott and Glen (and Isom to a lesser extent) could make for some great stories in their appropriate times once at the head of the airlines.

I think a lot of the most "influential" people are those who's names are never public.
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Mortyman
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:43 pm

* Bjørn Kjos ceo of Norwegian Air Shuttle / Norwegian : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Kjos

* Jan Carlzon Chief Executive Officer of SAS Group from 1981–1994.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Carlzon
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 10:50 pm

Stephen Wolf, UAL. Without Wolf United is basically a domestic carrier with the Asian routes Dick Ferris bought from Pam AM. No LHR rights, minimal European route structure, and not the South American routes that were purchased also from Pan Am. To attempt to replicate that route structure would take years if at all possible since at that time there were no open skies. I remember seeing a cover of Time magazine back then with Wolf and Crandle on the cover in a cartoon figure fighting for the world. And of course there were other things he attempted to purchase or do while at UAL but he was denied by the various factions. Which would have solidified UA as 'king kong' of the airline world.
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:01 pm

In the early 1950's Donald W. Nyrop, took over a real can of worms at NW and against all odds managed to turn it around. By the time he hired on NW already had a reputation for adversarial management and the unions were firmly entrenched. So he became pretty scrappy at the bargaining table. He stood-up to Trippe and his entrenched shills in the Government and muscled his way into becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific market. He held it together through many hard times. He inherited the fallout from the Martin debacle. He managed to struggle through the loss of a 377, two DC-7C's two L-188's, a 720B, and a 722. Even more impressive because he did not have the managerial staffing that other similar sized carriers had and had to make many decisions about routing,equipment and safety issues. He didn't buy aircraft because they were pretty. He bought them to make money and if an airframe or power plant manufacturing firm fell short he could pivot pretty quickly to someone else. When the DC-8's could not meet performance guarantees he dumped the fleet and switched to Boeing. NW went on to be a good Boeing customer.
There were many other accomplishments as well.
IMO Nyrop did not get the recognition he deserved. He wasn't in it for the glory , anyway.
Last edited by ImperialEagle on Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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ThalesCoelho
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:04 pm

Rubem Berta, of VARIG. Berta just turned a rather small airline into a giant. The B777-200ER PP-VRB was named afther him.

Fernando Pinto at TAP, former VARIG CEO, made big changes and transformed TAP from an Portuguese carrier into a big force in the South Atlantic.

Founders can be in this list? Capt Rolim Amaro founded TAM as a small air taxi, and died with his company being the biggest Fokker 100 operator in the world, a fast growing force in Brazil, receiving brand new Airbuses (A319, 320 and A330) and flying from Brazil to Miami and Paris.
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:48 am

rbavfan wrote:
shuttle9juliet wrote:
VC10er wrote:
We often give credit, both positive and negative, to the CEO of an airline. That is fair, they are at the top and the ultimate leader of their airline and in every regard, from its financial performance to quality of service and employee morale and brand image.

However we also know that there are other very senior executives who's particular role have enormous impact on many aspects of companies as complex as an airline, especially a major.

Aside from some of the most famous names like Gordon Bethune, Alex Cruz, Jeff Smisek, Juan Tripp, Akbar Al Baker, Oscar Munoz, Edward Bastian and the list goes on and on, however I'm very curious who are the others under them that have had or are having an enormous impact, positively or negatively. What are their roles and what did they do/doing? What are the positions or roles that have the most impact on an airline? (Especially what they do that we the passengers really feel?)

There has been much discussion about the impact of Scott Kirby from AA and now United and what he has been doing at UA. Who are some of the others both current and historic, who have made their mark?

Thanks


"Alex Cruz" ???


BA exec.


Yeah it was a bit tongue in cheek!!!
 
nutsaboutplanes
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:02 am

I know a lot of people think that Doug Parker isn't deserving of being on the list but I think he does. He is the longest serving CEO of a US airline and led America West (the only surviving deregulation era airline) through its rough infancy, a merger with a bankrupt and fundamentally flawed US Airways, the rationalization of a canibalistic route network and ultimately the merger with AA creating the worlds largest airline. You may not agree with some of the decisions that have been made under his leadership but it's impossible to argue that he has not been influential.....I would actually say that he has been a transformational leader for the industry. Doug is also Chairman for the A4A and has been one of the most outspoken advocates for Airspace modernization.

Richard Anderson is the other who I had tremendous respect and admiration for. I was bummed when he left NW.....he was a strong leader and I always felt like he placed a premium on comms to front line employees and employee engagement.
American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Northwest Airlines, America West Airlines, USAFR
 
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TWA772LR
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:09 am

Stelios Ioannou. Made the first real competitor to FR, and FastJet.
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abrelosojos
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:21 am

A bit more unconventional perhaps - but - Naresh Goyal, Girma Wake, Andreas Conesa, Gregg Saretsky, David Neelman, JRD Tata, and Alan Joyce.

Saludos,
Alex
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nutsaboutplanes
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:28 am

Another is Ben Minicucci, the current Alaska Airlines President/ COO. Tough leader, high expectations but he gets the most out of his people and builds exceptional teams.
American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, Northwest Airlines, America West Airlines, USAFR
 
hummingbird1
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:06 am

Interesting thread. Here are two names from Europe:

Surprising nobody came up with Michael O'Leary (CEO of Ryanair) yet.
Not the most likeable CEO, no doubt, but he is not only one of the best known with a lot of coverage in the media, he has turned Ryanair from a close to bankruptcy tiny charter airline into a lowfare giant.
I'd say he is probably the person who has had the biggest impact on the change of the European airline industry, bringing the traditional network carriers into trouble and establishing a completely new system. I do remember that I took a bet with the CMO of a well known German carrier at the time that Ryanair would actually take the 100 Boeing 737-800s they had ordered in early 2002. At that time that was the largest order ever made for the type.
He said: "I don't see the routes where they could be flying that many planes" (that was before they established hubs all over Europe). Meanwhile they have almost 400 737-800s.
In the early 90s O'Leary went to the US to study the Southwest business model, met Herb Kelleher and applied the Southwest principles (one aircraft model, short turn around times, etc.). But he did not just copy, he developed the model further, e.g. by avoiding the big airports and flying to smaller airports, ...

And here's another one who would qualify for the list of truly influential CEOs, although he may be not that well known around the world: Juergen Weber, CEO of Lufthansa in the 90s.
It was him who actually had the idea of forming an alliance between carriers from different parts of the world - which led to the foundation of Star Alliance in 1997. We all know how important alliances have become. OneWorld followed in 1999 and SkyTeam in 2000.
 
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ElroyJetson
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:28 am

Richard Anderson was brilliant with both NW and DL. He gets my vote for a guy in the modern era. I'd throw in Gordon Bethune with CO and Tim Clark with EK.
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:40 am

stlgph wrote:
Frank Lorenzo
Robert Six
Juan Trippe
William A Patterson
Richard Branson
Jack Frye
C.R. Smith
Eddie Rickenbacker
Herb Kelleher
Howard Hughes
Robert Crandall
Gordon Bethune


Why do you put Lorenzo on top? In the end he failed, except for himself, so much in fact that when SAS was going to invest, the requirement was that Lorenzo depart and not return. I would put Kellerher, Six, Bethune, Juan Tripp at the top.
 
WIederling
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:19 am

hummingbird1 wrote:
And here's another one who would qualify for the list of truly influential CEOs, although he may be not that well known around the world: Juergen Weber, CEO of Lufthansa in the 90s.
It was him who actually had the idea of forming an alliance between carriers from different parts of the world - which led to the foundation of Star Alliance in 1997. We all know how important alliances have become. OneWorld followed in 1999 and SkyTeam in 2000.


Who was the driving force behind the START later Amadeus booking systems ( that now seems to dominate air travel but also all the ancillary services?)
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:40 am

THIS IS ALL SO EDUCATIONAL! Thank you, I love learning new things.
Back in the days when I was flying 250,000 miles a year for a string of 8-10 years, came the unbelievable: a totally flat BED seat. I recall my jaw dropping when I saw how much room it took up vs any other premium seat I'd seen before. Is there someone who gets the credit for changing the standard of F and then J to bed seats becoming a "must have to compete"? Who was first, and who spent the money and took the gamble?
I think I'm correct in saying that AA started the Frequent Flier promgrams (lotalty programs) which was a sea change forcing ALL OTHERS to follow suit. I know Airlines sort of wish it never happened- but seriously it has locked me into UA, even though I often want to fly another airline. CEO's approved the implementation of FF programs- but who's the dude who ran into a meeting and said "I have an idea!!!"
Also, who, in your options (or facts) did the best job at route planning? Who's made some of the best aircraft purchases and who's made the biggest goofs? (Again, I get the fact that the buck stops on the CEO's desk) but I know it's often others who can go to their grave saying to themselves "Modern Flat Beds were MY idea, but CEO Mr X gets all the credit)
Who's idea was it to charge OUTRAGEOUS fees for overweight bags, then bags in general? We hate him!
Last: who started the ULTRA level of elite airline pax: Concierge Key, HON, Global Services and others- "spend $75k a year and you will get celebrity status"? and are those special clubs working as planned and driving high price, huge margin business? If so, whom ever started it deserves credit.
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
dstc47
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:19 pm

hummingbird1 wrote:
Surprising nobody came up with Michael O'Leary (CEO of Ryanair) yet.


Reread post number 2 in this thread!
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:26 pm

This is a fantastic, interesting thread.

I have three to name - and I am sorry they are all U.S. based - but that is what I have studied most.

I fully agree with ImperialEagle - that Don Nyrop has to be in my top 3. He turned a small town airline into a global powerhouse. He was obsessive about cost control during regulation - which was rare. Although this set him up for some rough conflicts with Guy Cook and others in the labor movement (I am strongly pro-union but still like Nyrop overall), it made him an innovator. The JT9D powered DC-10 is just one example of his focus on commonality and cost control at every level, as he wanted a 300-seat jet but wanted to avoid introducing a second high bypass turbofan. Rumor has it that NW bought almost all of its jets in cash during regulation - because Nyrop hated paying interest to the banks.

I'm putting Charles Tillinghast from TWA on here. He was by no means financially successful, as he failed to take advantage of TWA's excellent assets in the 1970s, and left it terribly positioned for deregulation when it should have kicked American out of Chicago and challenged United for the top spot in the U.S. But Tillinghast is just a dramatic, vivid person. Go read the transcripts of the lead-up to airline deregulation in the Senate. Tillinghast just blew up at both Democrats and Republicans on the witness stand, calling Kahn and Kennedy's deregulation plan "Alice in Wonderland" over and over. I just love how bombastic he was.

Finally, Alvin Feldman from Frontier and Continental. He staged a heroic campaign to defend Continental against the Lorenzo LBO, and arranged both a potential merger with Western and the employee buyout option (both of which were defeated by Lorenzo). He rallied the troops through the initial crisis of deregulation. Sadly we know this did not end well. Feldman's wife died in 1980, and that added to his deep despair about Lorenzo and deregulation. He committed suicide in his office at LAX on August 9th, 1981.

If you read the Senate transcripts on the Airline Deregulation Act, you get a great sense of the intense drama over deregulation, and how various managers responded.
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:54 pm

Jan Carlzon. Single handedly brought SAS from an anachronism to one of the premier full-service carriers of Europe. He refused to buy new aircraft, instead spending the money on vast service improvements. He got rid of the 747s and DC-10s, in favour of 767s. He refused to be engage in new adventures on the route front, chosing instead to increase frequencies on existing. Some might say he created the modern 'businessman's airline'.
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:44 pm

Frank Lorenzo
George Baker
Gerald Grinstein (both Delta AND Western)
Don Nyrop
Harding Lawrence (both Braniff AND Continental)
Terry Drinkwater (both Continental AND Western)
Harris Hanshue
Doug Parker
Dominic Renda
Jan Carlzon
Bob Six
Dick Ferris
Stephen Wolf
Ron Allen
Bob Six
Phil Bakes
Al Feldman
Joe Leonard

Now, before I get all you armchair CEO's in a tizzy, this list isnt in any particular order, and there are both good and bad notables.
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:48 pm

I do not know his name, but there was a guy at Young & Rubicam advertising who worked (a zillion years ago) on TWA when Y&R had their business. He presented them with a big idea which he truly believed in, but it was rejected by TWA. He then moved to Leo Burnett who had United and sold his idea to them: sonic branding. He was the person who had the idea for Rhapsody in Blue!
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