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VC10er
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:51 pm

TW870 wrote:
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.


Aviation is a PASSION even more than it is a BUSINESS. I swear that's true.

I will look up your story and read about it. Thanks so much!
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
ifly4free
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:16 pm

Tom Davis from Piedmont Airlines is worth a mention. He grew Piedmont from a puddle jumper into a formidable east coast competitor.

Rakesh Gangwal former CEO of US Airways went on to start India based Indigo Airlines. I don’t know much about them but reading articles about Indigo it sounds like they are a top tier airline in India.
 
ImperialEagle
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:46 pm

When I think of lie flat seats my first thought is way back in the late 1950's when TW introduced the L-1649's with "Siesta" seating. They might as well have, as the "Starliner" was never going to be a money maker anyway. So I think TW led the trend. What I don't remember is if those seats were truly lie flat. If they weren't they sure were close. That idea went out the window with the mass introduction of pure jets.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
 
ImperialEagle
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:03 pm

ifly4free wrote:
Tom Davis from Piedmont Airlines is worth a mention. He grew Piedmont from a puddle jumper into a formidable east coast competitor.

Rakesh Gangwal former CEO of US Airways went on to start India based Indigo Airlines. I don’t know much about them but reading articles about Indigo it sounds like they are a top tier airline in India.


Yes, Davis at PI was a great guy. He was also pretty good at equipment selection as he modernized PI into a turbine fleet in spite of the CAB roadblocks. You could not pull up to ATL at a busy time without hearing screaming Darts from PI aircraft. YS-11's-------whaaaat? Hey, those were RR turbines out there on the wings! People laughed when the 721's appeared and Davis laughed all the way to the bank.

Probably should mention Frank Hulse over at SO, as well. Although much more laid-back than Davis, he had very high safety and service standards. You might have been on a lumbering old -3 or Martin over the backwoods of the Deep South somewhere, however, you certainly got to your destination with a friendly and comfortable experience.
"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough!"
 
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lesfalls
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:09 pm

Don Burr(Ceo of People Express) is one that comes to mind. He had true care over employees with going sometimes to the training classes. His office was at all times open and he had much communication with the staff also. The system of permiting staff to hold a different position throught certain days(one day working at check-in while another as a flight attendant) of the week was also something else I find impeccable done by him.
Lufthansa: Einfach ein bisschen besser.
 
nikeherc
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:05 pm

C. E. Woolman, CEO of Delta. In the era when other airlines were money pits, he made money. He read every complaint letter personally. He said "Let's put ourselves on the other side of the counter. We have a responsibility over and above the price of a ticket." He created the "Spirit of Delta."
DC6 to 777 and most things in between
 
Hirnie
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:38 pm

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.[/quote]

Without Jürgen Weber LH would not exist anymore (at least in the form LH exists now). When he became CEO LH was a bankrupt carrier and the Germany did not want to sink more money in the carrier which Rhunau (the CEO before) ran against the wall. Weber led the way into privatisation and made LH a Profitable airline again.


Thiery Antinori (hope I spelled it correctly). He was the chief of network planning of LH in the early 2000s until I think around 2014. He was "bought out" by Emirates.

Nico Bucholz. He was chief of fleet planning at LH and without him we could not enjoy this veraity of 4 holers. Wether it is good or not depends on the point of view.

Those two guys were never CEOs but had a big impact on LH for about a decade.

Edit: Sorry, I tried to quote hummingbird1 in the first paragraph but something went wrong.
 
PI4EVER
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Fri Aug 18, 2017 8:36 pm

Thomas H. Davis of Piedmont Airlines that began as Camel City Flying Service in Winston-Salem, NC.
A brilliant visionary and manager who instilled a strong sense of service to the customer, and to treat employees like family.
He enjoyed a fierce loyalty amongst employees at all levels, and inspired everyone to meet and exceed expectations.
A true Southern gentleman who loved flying first and foremost and his family at home, and his family at the airline.
He was a smart Manager. He hired Gordon Bethune as a VP at PI who left to command CO, and Bill Howard who ultimately became CEO when Mr. Davis retired.
A son became a Captain and a daughter was a F/A for many years. Beau and Wendy were well liked as colleagues as well.
watch what you want. you may get it.
 
TW870
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:03 am

lesfalls wrote:
Don Burr(Ceo of People Express) is one that comes to mind. He had true care over employees with going sometimes to the training classes. His office was at all times open and he had much communication with the staff also. The system of permiting staff to hold a different position throught certain days(one day working at check-in while another as a flight attendant) of the week was also something else I find impeccable done by him.


While I totally agree that PeoplExpress was immensely unique, this has to be read in context. PeoplExpress was a very low wage airline. Sure, Burr might have been engaged, but you can't eat friendly. PeoplExpress paid less than half of what its unionized competitors paid, and had a flat payscale. The company may have been fun to work for if you were 20 years old for a summer, but it wasn't a place where you could work and raise a family. Also, I have not seen a quantitative economic study on the cross-utlilization program, but I have my doubts that it saved any money. If you want people to be good at their jobs, training for above wing, below wing, and flight attendant is an expensive, time consuming affair. Some of the ideas - like doing ticketing onboard - were interesting, but with so many junior employees and so much cross utilization, it is a recipe for chaos. Bottom line is I think Burr is unique, but created many more problems than good.
 
TW870
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:11 am

VC10er wrote:

Aviation is a PASSION even more than it is a BUSINESS. I swear that's true.

I will look up your story and read about it. Thanks so much!


Thank you! And I 100% agree. Some of the most interesting leaders ran companies that lost money but that were still completely innovative. I mean Mary Wells ended up married to Harding Lawrence at Braniff, and the "end of the plain plane" was part of an insular set of 1960s corporate relationships that yielded an expensive, overly complicated brand identity that may not have made Braniff any money. But her work was absolutely brilliant and none of us can stop talking about it 52 years later!
 
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 6:52 am

Herb Kelleher
Michael O'Leary
Tony Fernandes
Tim Clark
"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
 
VC10er
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:26 am

When I brought up the first true lie flat seats, I wasn't referring to the olden days of beds on planes, I was thinking of breaking away from deep recliners/cradle seats, and started the modern day flat seat. Was it BA in First Class? I was once told they had hired a yacht design company to develop a seat that would convert at the touch of a button. (I have no proof that is true)...but I was there when all was good with a big wide recliner with a fully extended foot rest was the "tops"...then within a few years, they were dinosaurs. Who pioneered this for premium international cabins...and today they are "cost of entry" for any international airline that isn't a LLC.
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

Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:32 am

TW870 wrote:
VC10er wrote:

Aviation is a PASSION even more than it is a BUSINESS. I swear that's true.

I will look up your story and read about it. Thanks so much!


Thank you! And I 100% agree. Some of the most interesting leaders ran companies that lost money but that were still completely innovative. I mean Mary Wells ended up married to Harding Lawrence at Braniff, and the "end of the plain plane" was part of an insular set of 1960s corporate relationships that yielded an expensive, overly complicated brand identity that may not have made Braniff any money. But her work was absolutely brilliant and none of us can stop talking about it 52 years later!


Indeed Mary Wells will hold a place on Madison Ave forever. Being truly innovative is always risky. But it's worth many failures to finally breakthrough and change the staus quo. I will never forget that first photo of 5 aircraft parked with noses all pointed inward to make a 5 point star - to introduce Star Alliance. Who would or could have predicted the movement that would cause?
To Most the Sky is The Limit, For me, the Sky is Home.
 
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Roadcruiser1
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:30 am

Sir Freddie Laker.

While I may get a lot of heat for mentioning him he helped pioneer the low cost Transatlantic market that many airlines like Norwegian Air Shuttle uses today. Without his ideas the World would be a different place.
Roadcruiser1
 
Lofty
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:55 am

I think Lord King and Sir Colin Marshal (BA) they took state owned Airlines and merged them and made a strong independent airline with a very strong identity. Above all they had the respect of their staff.
 
PMUA787
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:22 am

Frank Borman at Eastern. He was part of the innovative six month evaluation program of the Airbus A300 back in 1977 that pioneered the entry of Airbus into North America and helped propel Airbus into what it is today. Also he was instrumental with the Boeing 757 to which Eastern was the North American launch customer.

Despite what is said about Joe Leonard and the controversy with the DC-10 engine change procedure he approved the led to him being called "Forklift Joe" he essentially saved Air Tran which was struggling after the rebranding from Valujet to become a well operation that gave Delta good competition at the ATL fortress hub and became such a competitor to Southwest that they eventually bought and acquired them in 2010. Also I give Robert Fornaro just about as much credit with turning around FL as Joe Leonard.
 
DJMEL
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:36 pm

I would say that (Sir) Ralph Norris' time at NZ and subsequently Rob Fyfe after the disastrous purchase and subsequent cutting AN adrift and the Government bailout of NZ, setup the now successful NZ Today, he and his team signed off on a total reboot of the Airline ordering B777-200, B777-300ER and the (7E7) 787, new inflight products Business Premier, Premium Economy and its quick return back to profitability.

Mr Lim Cheng Beng and Mr Joseph Pillay who were the first MD and Chairman respectively of the Legendary SQ / SIA they created the Famous Singapore Girl image, ordered the 747 and help to set the standard of Service other Airlines talk about.

Sir Reginald Ansett Founder of AN and Mr Graeme McMahon CEO and MD of AN from Mailroom Boy to CEO!

Mr Bryan Grey founder of (YM) Compass Airlines and previous of (EW) East-West Airlines he was also a Founding MD of (PX) Air Nuigini.

Mr Gerry McGowan Founder of VQ - Impluse Airlines.

Sir Roderick Eddington - Chairman of AN / Chairman of Cathay Pacific and then CEO of BA.

Sir Richard Branson and Mr Brett Godfrey and Mr Rob Sherrard starting (DJ) Virgin Blue. Mr John Borghetti AO for turning DJ into VA and a diviisfied Airline.

Mr Alan Joyce AC CEO of QF for turning the Airline around.
 
ltbewr
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 12:49 pm

Frederic W. Smith, founder and CEO of FedEx. Over 40 years ago he created a whole new concept of air freight, of a vertically integrated company offering overnight door to door delivery of documents and goods.
 
Austin787
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 1:45 pm

Doug Parker - while I disagree with many of his decisions, he succeeded in transforming America West (mostly a regional airline) into the world's largest airline
Ed Beauvais - original CEO of America West.
Jeff Smisek - I'm aware of the criticism against him, but he created a large global airline with arguably the best network. Plus some of his initiatives eventually became common (extra legroom seating, lie flats on transcons, etc).

Some non-CEOs:
Maya Leibman (AA Chief Information Officer) - oversaw the AA and US technology integration, a large and complex project which went very well
Suzanne Rubin - oversaw AAdvantage program, which was a popular choice for frequent fliers under her leadership. She also kept AAdvantage among the top while competitors were gutting their FF programs.
 
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lesfalls
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 3:06 pm

TW870 wrote:
lesfalls wrote:
Don Burr(Ceo of People Express) is one that comes to mind. He had true care over employees with going sometimes to the training classes. His office was at all times open and he had much communication with the staff also. The system of permiting staff to hold a different position throught certain days(one day working at check-in while another as a flight attendant) of the week was also something else I find impeccable done by him.


While I totally agree that PeoplExpress was immensely unique, this has to be read in context. PeoplExpress was a very low wage airline. Sure, Burr might have been engaged, but you can't eat friendly. PeoplExpress paid less than half of what its unionized competitors paid, and had a flat payscale. The company may have been fun to work for if you were 20 years old for a summer, but it wasn't a place where you could work and raise a family. Also, I have not seen a quantitative economic study on the cross-utlilization program, but I have my doubts that it saved any money. If you want people to be good at their jobs, training for above wing, below wing, and flight attendant is an expensive, time consuming affair. Some of the ideas - like doing ticketing onboard - were interesting, but with so many junior employees and so much cross utilization, it is a recipe for chaos. Bottom line is I think Burr is unique, but created many more problems than good.


Oh wow. I never knew that. Your right then. My apologies. Thank you for the info.
Lufthansa: Einfach ein bisschen besser.
 
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huaiwei
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:24 pm

Just an observation as an Asian: the list is decidedly American and Euro-centric. It this because Western businesses are more personality-based, while Asian ones, particularly the Eastern Asian ones, tend to focus more on the airline as a whole team?

I mean, even Singaporeans like myself have trouble naming SQ's CEO! And there is an article about this:

https://mothership.sg/2013/10/bet-20-sp ... -googling/

which links to a more through article in this:

http://www.emmanueldaniel.com/do-ceos-n ... onalities/

"The truth is if you read all the official literature on Singapore Airlines, it gives the impression that it was built by a committee, a group of faceless men and women in the 1970s."

But only one name stood out for SQ: Joseph Yuvaraj Pillay, who was instrumental in setting the direction for SQ's early years, but he was technically a non-executive chairman.
It's huaiwei...not huawei. I have nothing to do with the PRC! :)
 
TW870
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 7:52 pm

huaiwei wrote:
Just an observation as an Asian: the list is decidedly American and Euro-centric. It this because Western businesses are more personality-based, while Asian ones, particularly the Eastern Asian ones, tend to focus more on the airline as a whole team?



I agree with you about the U.S./Euro-centricity, and I thought about it too.

No, I don't really think it is because U.S. firms are more about cults of personality. If anything, the opposite was true. When the U.S. carriers boomed in the 1960s, that was the peak of the "organization man" or "man in the gray flannel suit" era of corporate management, when most U.S. firms were run by white men who looked, thought, and acted the same. Now of course that is an exaggeration, but part of the reason that many pushed for deregulation was precisely because the regulated industry rewarded groupthink among management.

I think one of the reasons that the list looks like it does is just because the U.S. industry was so giant and so dominant in the 1945-1970 period globally. WWII left the U.S. with so much capital and so many technological resources. Plus it invested many of those resources into universities, which then produced a giant management literature about many of these airlines. There were so much seat mileage in the U.S. and so much written about it in an era when the industry was less developed and less documented in much of the rest of the world. This is not a complete answer, but just a thought to begin to answer it.
 
ualcsr
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:43 pm

It can only be Juan Trippe
 
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sunking737
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Re: The Other Most Influencial Airline Execs

Sun Aug 20, 2017 12:25 am

Terry Drinkwater...Western, Hal Carr...North Central/Republic #1, Jim Olson...Sun Country
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