Moderators: richierich, ua900, PanAm_DC10, hOMSaR

 
c5load
Topic Author
Posts: 344
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:40 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:27 am

I am working on a school project and my assignment is to choose a successful manager or entrepreneur. I need some help on deciding who to choose. Who has been successful in the airline industry?

[Edited 2010-01-26 16:27:31]

[Edited 2010-01-26 16:32:07]
"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
 
NWADC10LUVER
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:10 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:34 am

My top five are as follows:
1. Sir Richard Branson-Virgin Group
2. Gordon Bethune-CO
3. John Dashburg-NWA
4 Leo Van Wyk-KLM
5. Leo Mullin-DL
 
User avatar
keesje
Posts: 14118
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2001 2:08 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:35 am

Herb Kelleher many will think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnFfFRDMd_0
"Never mistake motion for action." Ernest Hemingway
 
User avatar
Acey559
Posts: 1403
Joined: Wed Jan 24, 2007 3:30 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:35 am

I'd say Herb Kelleher from Southwest.
In Dixie Land I'll take my stand to live and die in Dixie.
 
tdscanuck
Posts: 8573
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:25 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:37 am



Quoting C5LOAD (Thread starter):
Who has been successful in the airline industry?

Depends on your definition of success, but Rollin King and Herb Kelleher (Southwest), Stephen Udvar-Hazy (ILFC), Michael O'Leary (Ryanair), Frederick Smith (FedEx), or Juan Trippe (PanAm) would all be good places to start.

Tom.
 
tommy767
Posts: 4658
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2003 12:18 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:37 am

Frank Lorenzo...hands down




JUST KIDDING! ! !  bigthumbsup 
"KEEP CLIMBING" -- DELTA
 
globeex
Posts: 265
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:33 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:40 am

1. Herb Kelleher - SW
2. MOL - FR (this might be the most interesting one, if you ask me, lots of "funny" stories etc.)  
3. Mayrhuber - LH (he as also quite achieved something looking at where LH was 15-20 years ago)..

.... if you need something for a good presentation, something that's interesting even good for a laugh, helping your schoolmates to stay focused, I would def. MOL.

Howard Robard Hughes would also be a good choice I would guess. You probably will also be able to gather a lot of info on him



[Edited 2010-01-26 16:43:32]
As you may presently yourself be fully made aware of, my grammar sucks.
 
deltairlines
Posts: 7108
Joined: Mon May 24, 1999 4:47 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:44 am



Quoting NWADC10LUVER (Reply 1):
5. Leo Mullin-DL

Mullin is right up there with Lorenzo and Icahn in my list of CEOs I can't stand.

I'd highly recommend choosing Bethune or Herb Kelliher. Both of them have written really good books about their time with their respective airlines that would be worth reading even if it wasn't related to a school project.
 
cpd
Posts: 6561
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2008 4:46 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:49 am

Geoff Dixon of Qantas Group is probably one of them. That group went through the worst of the airline crisis period and remained fairly steady.

It's also a good subject on industrial relations too, and the different work agreements. His style wasn't always nice - sometimes it was a bit brutal, but he did a reasonable job.
 
SXDFC
Posts: 2053
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 6:07 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:51 am



Quoting GlobeEx (Reply 6):
1. Herb Kelleher - SW

After meeting him in person, he is not only an amazing businessman, but person as well!

I would love to know the a-net opinion of Gerard Arpey, ceo of AA..
 
c5load
Topic Author
Posts: 344
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:40 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:53 am

Wow! Thank you for all the inputs, I had no idea there were so many.
"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
 
FlagshipAZ
Posts: 3192
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2001 12:40 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:03 am



Quoting C5LOAD (Thread starter):

Since you said "has", I'll say C.R. Smith and Robert Crandall, both of American. Both were history makers in the industry.
Regards.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." --Ben Franklin
 
JBirdAV8r
Posts: 3463
Joined: Sun Jun 24, 2001 4:44 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:05 am

Ol' Herb might be a good one, but I might also submit Maury Gallagher of Allegiant (G4) for a more "modern" success story. His path to success has been interesting (ValuJet)....
I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
 
stratosphere
Posts: 1883
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 12:45 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:08 am



Quoting NWADC10LUVER (Reply 1):
3. John Dashburg-NWA

Are you for real?????
 
Lufthansa
Posts: 2639
Joined: Thu May 20, 1999 6:04 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:12 am

I think Robert Crandall deserves a mention here.

Couple of reasons. Firstly, after deregulation, he turned AA into something
it previously only could dream of being in terms of size. Next, under his stewardship,
we saw a whole stack of industry first. The first real transition to a properly focused Hub and spoke model (for US carriers anyway). The massive expansion of the MD80 fleet into
the worlds largest. Billion dollar profits being reached. The world's first frequent flyer program.
And perhaps most importatly, the concept of yeild management... effectively combating
early LCC's like peoplexpress, and setting American up for an amazingly path of expansion, extending across the globle and more then once achieving 'worlds largest carrier' status.
Now UAL did most of those same things at about the same time too... but the important part was AA came up with particularly the frequent flyer program and the concept of yield management forecasting and computer systems. This success basically lasted until the dot com bubble burst... still... those innovations changed how airlines were run across the entire world. So hardly insignificant!
 
User avatar
1337Delta764
Posts: 5913
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2005 4:02 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:20 am



Quoting NWADC10LUVER (Reply 1):
5. Leo Mullin-DL

You gotta be kidding me, right? He drove Delta into bankruptcy. Gerald Grinstein is the savior of Delta.
 
User avatar
American 767
Posts: 4534
Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 7:27 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:22 am

What about Juan Trippe?
He was the founder of Pan American World Airways wasn't it?
Ben Soriano
 
Delta787
Posts: 306
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 8:13 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:22 am



Quoting NWADC10LUVER (Reply 1):
5. Leo Mullin-DL

Thats got to be a joke. Mullin is probably the worst CEO Delta has ever had. Some of the decisions that Mullin made as head of Delta were largely responsible for putting Delta into Chapter 11 several years ago.
Fly Delta!
 
Condorito
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:51 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:24 am



Quoting American 767 (Reply 16):
What about Juan Trippe?
He was the founder of Pan American World Airways wasn't it?

Yes, but he did a lot to create the problems that eventually led them downhill as well.
The future's uncertain, and the end is always near.
 
Condorito
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:51 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:25 am

I nominate Sebastian Pinera of LAN. Look at how that airline has evolved in S. America.
The future's uncertain, and the end is always near.
 
PC12Fan
Posts: 2135
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 11:50 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:26 am



Quoting Tommy767 (Reply 5):
Frank Lorenzo...hands down




JUST KIDDING! ! !

Are you for real?!?! Can't you see that it is clearly Carl Ichan?!?!?

On a more personal note, my sentimental vote is for a former CEO of Lufthansa who I am proud to say was a dear family friend. I recently found out though that after losing touch, he passed away a couple years ago. Gunter, I'll never forget your reaction, as a nine year old kid, after I gave you my complete drawings of the Lufthansa fleet - including the Concorde. It will be with me till the day the put me in the ground.

Godspeed Mr. Eser!

Big version: Width: 800 Height: 163 File size: 17kb
Just when I think you've said the stupidest thing ever, you keep talkin'!
 
aa757first
Posts: 3140
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 11:40 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:27 am



Quoting American 767 (Reply 16):
What about Juan Trippe?
He was the founder of Pan American World Airways wasn't it?

Juan Trippe did a great job starting Pan Am, but arguably failed it in its later years. He was obsessed with prestige. Many Pan Am managers wanted to move the airline's headquarters somewhere else in the country. The cost of having headquarters in NYC was very expensive and, since NYC is home to so many businesses, they had less clout with their Congressional representatives than they would else where. He refused. In another example, rumor has that a non-stop flight to a small island in the Bahamas was flown almost always empty just to get him a newspaper every morning.

I'd say either Gordon Bethune, like others have said, or Herb Kelleher. Kelleher probably has more books written on him if sources are an issue.
 
SuperDash
Posts: 357
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2003 1:52 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:29 am

Uncle Herb gets my vote
 
CLEpirate
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:51 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:31 am

Frank Borman....nah....its got to be:

1. Herb --SW
2. Juan--Pan Am
3. Gordon-CO
4. Crandell-AA
 
NWADC10LUVER
Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:10 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:44 am

at least Leo Mullin gave back his salary and bonuses. has Mr Anderson did that NO!
Mr. Anderson took his while exiting NWA and left his employees with nothing and he will take his while he is at DL. ask Steenland and Bastain and the 53,000 employees at NWA about the golden exit salary he got while NWA was gutting salaries and its workforce and customer service.
 
FlyDeltaJets87
Posts: 4479
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 3:51 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:48 am

Glenn Tilton - UA  biggrin 

Quoting GlobeEx (Reply 6):
Howard Robard Hughes would also be a good choice I would guess. You probably will also be able to gather a lot of info on him

Would be one of my first choices. Surprised you're the only one to mention him so far.
"Let's Roll"- Todd Beamer, United Airlines Flight 93, Sept. 11, 2001
 
BNAFlyer
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:36 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:54 am



Quoting FlyDeltaJets87 (Reply 25):
Quoting GlobeEx (Reply 6):
Howard Robard Hughes would also be a good choice I would guess. You probably will also be able to gather a lot of info on him

Would be one of my first choices. Surprised you're the only one to mention him so far.

I think a lot of people forget about HH and what he did for TWA and the industry. He pretty much was responsible for Lockheed building the Connie, arguably one of the best aircraft ever designed, not to mention the sleekest, at least IMO. My top choices though would be Kelleher, Bethune, and Crandall. They don't have to be universally loved to be credited for their accomplishments.
 
FURUREFA
Posts: 640
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 2:26 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:56 am

1. Crandall
2. C.R. Smith
3. Herb Kelleher
4. Gordon Bethune
5. Gerald Grinstein.


Matt
 
CLEpirate
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Jan 27, 2010 12:51 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:59 am

Tilton is a great choice ...LOL...also the biggest nightmare of any CO Elite! Yikes!
 
ThePinnacleKid
Posts: 540
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2005 9:47 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:00 am

I would have to go with:

1) C.R. Smith - AA - look into this guy, you should be impressed... there is a reason the AA museum is in his name!

2) R. Crandall - AA
3) Juan Trippe - PA early formation
4) H. Hughes - TW early formation expansion
5) H. Kelleher - WN
6) G. Bethune - CO - bringing it back from the cliff... too bad the post Bethune mgmt would like to walk back to that ledge, albeit slowly
"Sonny, did we land? or were we shot down?"
 
User avatar
DocLightning
Posts: 21904
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 8:51 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:05 am



Quoting Keesje (Reply 2):
Herb Kelleher many will think.



Quoting Acey559 (Reply 3):
I'd say Herb Kelleher from Southwest.



Quoting Superdash (Reply 22):

1. Herb --SW

 thumbsup 

37 straight years of profits on that airline that he started from the ground up. I think he's #1.

SRB is another.

MOL (as much as we love to hate him) is another.

Bethune? Took CO from a pile of dung to a class act. Pretty impressive.

Who is "the most successful?" Well, obviously, there's no single, clear-cut answer.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
BMI727
Posts: 11300
Joined: Mon Feb 02, 2009 9:29 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:13 am

I would put Herb Kelleher and Gordon Bethune as first and second. But for the purposes of writing a paper I would also raise Bob Crandall as a candidate, since there are plenty of things that you can write about his sometimes controversial methods and comments.
Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
 
Viscount724
Posts: 19316
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:32 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:22 am



Quoting BNAFlyer (Reply 26):
I think a lot of people forget about HH and what he did for TWA and the industry. He pretty much was responsible for Lockheed building the Connie

But he also made many bad decisions, espeically being late to order jets which put TWA behind many of their competitors in the early jet era. That was ironic as, if memory correct, after Hughes no longer had any involvement with TWA, they became the first major US airline to become all-jet.
 
airfrnt
Posts: 2174
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2004 2:05 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:22 am

Juan Trippe and Herb Kelleher defined the two most successful airlines of all time, and all airlines try to make themselves over as one or the other of Pan Am (Luxury prestige international brand) or SouthWest.

Pan Am defined the rules for International flying, and their conventions - captains and first officers instead of pilots and co-pilots gave Aviation it's nautical flavor. The did the impossible, they broke three markets open - Latin America, Atlantic and Pacific and were the launch carrier for two out of three of the most influential planes in history - the 707 and 747.

Southwest is the other extreme. They really are the carrier that proved that flying didn't have to be a elites only business. Despite the best efforts of just about everyone to kill them, they have been rock solid to the point that the US government used them as the example for every other airline in the world to emulate when it ended aviation regulation in the late 70s. Herb was the "everyman" CEO, loved to joke, loved to drink, loved to work. Juan Trippe was a figure out fiction, the gentleman obsessed with aviation.

The darkhorse candidate in all of this is Bob Crandall who understood how the information age would change aviation forever.
 
airfrnt
Posts: 2174
Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2004 2:05 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:34 am



Quoting Aa757first (Reply 21):
Juan Trippe did a great job starting Pan Am, but arguably failed it in its later years. He was obsessed with prestige. Many Pan Am managers wanted to move the airline's headquarters somewhere else in the country. The cost of having headquarters in NYC was very expensive and, since NYC is home to so many businesses, they had less clout with their Congressional representatives than they would else where. He refused.

A lot more too that story. Juan Trippe had a lot of pull until the Kennedy's came to power, at which point the Democratic institution really turned on their former poster-child. This continued to the point that early deregulation allowed US carriers to fly international, but Pan Am not to fly domestically. This led to the disastrous bid for National, and that combined with far too many 747 purchases, killed the company. The National bid was already a disaster, but it was a disaster that occurred because the Carter administration was obsessed with making sure Pan Am couldn't get any advantage over the legacy carriers.

Did Juan Trippe's swallow too much? with the 747 undoubtedly. If deregulation had occurred earlier, and if Juan Trippe had not been obsessed with hiring a new CEO with political connections to restore the relationships he had lost, Pan Am might have survived, but ultimately the regulated market killed Pan Am - never let them grow into profitable markets, and restrained them from competing on a even ground once deregulation occurred.
 
oneskyjet
Posts: 89
Joined: Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:46 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:42 am

David Neeleman.
Defined a new value equation in the airline industry at jetBlue. High quality plus low cost.
 
BNAFlyer
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2010 3:36 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:47 am



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 32):
But he also made many bad decisions, espeically being late to order jets which put TWA behind many of their competitors in the early jet era. That was ironic as, if memory correct, after Hughes no longer had any involvement with TWA, they became the first major US airline to become all-jet.

True, but with very few exceptions, all the CEO's can at one time or another be blamed for something that went wrong. I do agree HH's ego hindered TWA's situation, but he was still instrumental in making them a major player. I do believe you are correct on the all-jet comment, the last Connie went out of TWA's fleet in 1967 according to the book "Legacy of Leadership", a history of TWA published in 1971.
 
Viscount724
Posts: 19316
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 7:32 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:52 am



Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 33):
Juan Trippe and Herb Kelleher defined the two most successful airlines of all time

I agree with Kelleher, but definitely not with Trippe. You can give him credit for developing Pan Am in the early years, but in later years he made many poor decisions and treated Pan Am as his personal toy, for example their 707 service from JFK to RSD (Rock Sound on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas) where Trippe had his exclusive private estate where he spent many weekends, often with his wealthy New York friends who probably flew free. And look at Pan Am's profitability before you consider Trippe one of the most successful CEOs. Pan Am seldom made an adequate return on investment during their entire history.
 
txagkuwait
Posts: 1388
Joined: Fri Aug 27, 1999 7:39 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:13 am

I can appreciate a lot of folks who think Kelleher at WN. Of course, Jerb was a lawyer who did nothing to put WN together. He was handed a money machine and to his great credit, he did nothing to mess it up. Heck, he went years and years without repainting the airplanes.

The suggestion of Rollin King is laughable. King did nothing constructive. He incorporated an idea that had no planes, no employees, and a bunch of past due debts when the real hero rode in to town.

The most successful? That's tough, because you have to define success. C.R. Smith, maybe? Or Rickenbacker at Eastern. The fatally flawed tragic hero Harding Lawrence?

Let's redefine success as someone who could take over a dog and turn it into a moneymaker. Someone who could do that twice, once with cargo and once with passengers. And then, after all that, could start one from scratch and turn it in to a money machine that conquered mighty trunk carriers and made money good times and bad.

M. Lamar Muse

I have known a lot of airline folks over the years, having a dad who started in the industry in 1948 helped. I don't think there will ever be a single individual who was smarter, more innovative, or had more of a lasting impact on changing the industry.

Had there never been a Lamar, there would never have been deregulation.

Had there never been a Lamar, there would never have been a Southwest.

But Southwest wasn't his first time at the rodeo. He had been comptroller at Trans Texas and had rearranged their schedule to better take advantage of mail subsidies. TTa, which had been in danger of losing their certificate, start making a profit.

He was lured to American but a crusty SOB from Palestine, TX was not a good fit in New York. He also did some good down at Southern, but he was not the genteel Southern gentleman. He got his own show, for a while, at Universal which was a cargo and charter carrier which had been losing money hand-over-fist. He turned that mess around, but got crosswise with the owners over equipment purchases. He left and the equipment purchases he advised against sunk the company.

Lamar was retained by a group of stockholders to try an turn around and salvage the mess that was Keith Kahle's local service carrier Central. Central had what was arguably the worst route network in the nation. When your big,, prosperous stations are places like Lawton, OK and Ft Smith, AR.....you know you have issues. In fairly short order Central was turning a profit and things were looking good. So good, in fact, that the shareholders who brought Lamar in sold out (at an obscene profit) to Lew Dymond's Frontier.

Frontier was a big boy among local service carriers, with an extensive route network centered on Denver but spreading out as far as Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Dallas.

The combined Central+Frontier was never as profitable, after the merger, as Central was as a standalone carrier beforehand. ANd that was serving places like Paris, TX, Muskogee, OK, and Liberal, KS.

Lamar retired, but came out of retirement in late 70/early 71 to put WN together. As I mentioned, Herb and Rollin King had a bunch of bills, a TAC certificate, no planes, mo employees, and no money. Lamar pur all of that together in about 8 months and started flying June 18 71. The rest is history.

If you haven't read it, I recommend a book called "Southwest Passage." Some of you may have read "Nuts" and thought that was the truth behind WN. Trust me, that book is about 10% truth and 90% Herb inspired fiction. "Southwest Passage" is from a different perspective, and probably contains about 90% truth.

Lamar made one mistake. He tried to bring his son on board as President at WN. The power play which resulted was ugly. While his son was a nice enough guy, the real airline genius in the family, and who he should have groomed as his successor, was his youngest daughter

May he rest in peace, there will never be another quite like him.

That beiing said, some of us who watch WN see an awful lot of Lamar in Gary Kelly. Neither one would admit it, but Kelly is shrewd, he's a number crunch kind of guy, and he isn't afraid to take the battle to the other airlines.

Lamar could crunch numbers better than anyone. He could rip out a legal pad and a stubby pencil and a 10 key adding machine and tell you, to the penny, how much money he was making charging folks $13 to go from Dallas to San Antonio and provide you with a pretty good estimate how much money Braniff was losing doing the same thing. So when Kelly tells you that it is a good idea for bags to fly free, you can bet he has taken the stubby pencil to it and figured how much more in the way of extra passengers ge has made money from over and above what he might have eschewed in the way of baggage fees. Their personalities are different, but bean counters are bean counters and its hard for them to function otherwise. WN is in real good hands.
 
flydreamliner
Posts: 1928
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:05 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:13 am

1. Juan Trippe (PanAm)

He built air travel as we know it. There would be no list, sans his vision. He created an airline that set a high water mark in travel (whether by sky or any other means) that I am certain will never be bettered. If he made any mistakes, treating PanAm as his toy, remember his chief competitor was TWA, under the tutelage of one Howard Hughes... want to talk about an airline captive to one man's mania....

2. Herb Kelleher (Southwest)

He smashed the mold and created something wholly new and better. He brought air travel to a whole new class of flyer... a sort of Henry Ford of the airline industry, and he built a machine so good it has run profitably for 37 consecutive years, a feat no competitor anywhere can boast.

3. Gordon Bethune (Continental)

This man crafted the turn around of all time, breaking with convention and increasing quality and quantity of sales without seriously effecting his cost base. He sets new standards of service and new paradigms of finding profitability. A true guru.

4. Bob Crandall (American)

The most honest man and a simple kind of genius. He turned a smaller carrier without hubs into the carrier with hubs/focus cities in the top 5 cities and a fleet of 400 mainline jets through his brilliant leaseback arrangements. He'd buy a block of 50 MD-80s from Douglas at like half price, sell them to a lessor at full price and lease them back, then take his capital, get more jets, and repeat. He grew American into the prototypical mainline carrier in a fast and really incredible way. I mean, he told people not to buy his stock and that airlines were an unsuitable investment, but who is perfect?
"Let the world change you, and you can change the world"
 
justlump
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 8:58 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:54 am

TxAgKuwait thanks for bringing up Lamar Muse. He was quite influential in the airline industry and rarely gets credit for his accomplishments.
My top three are:
1. Gordon Bethune
2. Herb Kelleher
3. David Neeleman

Perhaps not the best but an interesting character and story was Frederico Bloch of TACA.
 
baroque
Posts: 12302
Joined: Thu Apr 27, 2006 2:15 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 4:59 am



Quoting Cpd (Reply 8):
Geoff Dixon of Qantas Group is probably one of them. That group went through the worst of the airline crisis period and remained fairly steady.

It's also a good subject on industrial relations too, and the different work agreements. His style wasn't always nice - sometimes it was a bit brutal, but he did a reasonable job.

Yep, he is up there with the tops. Not many have tried to sell a corporation out from underneath its owners in part for his personal gain. And not many have arranged such a takeover so that close to a billion of reserves were paid out as a special dividend just months before capital became in short supply such that new issues of shares were required.

Oh yes, Dixon had an amazing record.
 
User avatar
mayor
Posts: 6218
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 3:58 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:21 am

Quoting NWADC10LUVER (Reply 1):
My top five are as follows:
1. Sir Richard Branson-Virgin Group
2. Gordon Bethune-CO
3. John Dashburg-NWA
4 Leo Van Wyk-KLM
5. Leo Mullin-DL

You purport to be an "airline historian" and yet you pick Leo Mullin??? Leo and his hand picked gang did more to drive DL towards bankruptcy than any management team in DL's history.


I'm really surprised that no one on here has mentioned C.E. Woolman or Dave Garrett of DL. Woolman kept them soluble until he died in '66 and Garrett brought them up to being a major airline and the DL/WA merger. Been sorta downhill since then, except for Grinstein. I think the jury is still out on Anderson. Woolman was the same period as C.R. Smith of AA but no one seems to notice Woolman

Quoting NWADC10LUVER (Reply 24):
at least Leo Mullin gave back his salary and bonuses. has Mr Anderson did that NO!
Mr. Anderson took his while exiting NWA and left his employees with nothing and he will take his while he is at DL. ask Steenland and Bastain and the 53,000 employees at NWA about the golden exit salary he got while NWA was gutting salaries and its workforce and customer service.

I think Mullin only gave them back when there was such a hue and cry about the rest of his management team taking theirs.

BTW, Bastian didn't work at NW when Anderson was there......he's been with DLsince 1998, except for a short time in 2005.

[Edited 2010-01-26 21:47:01 by mayor]
"A committee is a group of the unprepared, appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary"----Fred Allen
 
apodino
Posts: 4005
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:11 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:38 am

Here are some of my picks and reasons why:

Herb Kelleher: No explanation really needed, but he had a concept from day one and built the largest domestic airline in the country out of nothing, and Southwest became one of the most profitable airlines in history.

Michael O'Leary: Love him or hate him, he made air travel easy and cheap for many Europeans.

Bobby Crandall: Helped pioneer many things that are standard place at legacy carriers nowadays, and made American Airlines a force to be reckoned with.

Jerry Akin: No one has mentioned him yet, but Skywest has been arguably the most successful regional airline ever, keeping costs low and employees happy, and they have done it the right way, unlike some others out there.

Gordon Bethune: Inherited a mess of an airline that was Contiental, cleaned it up successfully, and turned it into a very respected airline that arguably has the best customer service among the legacies, and a very loyal following in their strong cities.

David Neeleman: Although the end of his JetBlue tenure wasn't pretty, the airline was successfully started up out of nothing, and in a few short years under his leadership became a very respected carrier with a very loyal following.


And I also wanted to list my CEO hall of shame and my reasons why:

Frank Lorenzo: Destroyed what was a great airline in Eastern Airlines, and pissed off all his employees and just about everyone else in the industry doing it.

Michel LeBlanc: I think this guy has ran at least five different airlines into the ground. I have lost track, but most recent was Jetsgo.

Steven Wolf: Ran his airlines with the sole purpose of driving up the stock price short term, which created all sorts of long term issues with airlines after he left them, noteably UA and US.

Kerry Skeen: Had a very successful regional airline operation and somehow ended up running from that and destroyed the company by trying to turn it into an LCC.

Dave Fink: What he did to the Pan Am name is a disgrace in my opinion and Juan Trippe is still spinning in his grave after that.

Don Carty: A lot of APA's hostility toward management came during his reign, and lost credibility after his scandal broke out.

Jonathan Ornstein: Mesa still exists, but was grown by taking flying contracts at losses to undercut competitors, and also running a bad operation. Not to mention losing money on Go and forcing Aloha out of business. The company is now bankrupt thanks to his decisions.
 
flydreamliner
Posts: 1928
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:05 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:44 am

Someone might consider Fred Smith and FedEx, him, his Memphis-model, and FedEx have changed shipping freight a lot.
"Let the world change you, and you can change the world"
 
Alias1024
Posts: 2694
Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2004 11:13 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:47 am



Quoting Apodino (Reply 43):
Jerry Akin: No one has mentioned him yet, but Skywest has been arguably the most successful regional airline ever, keeping costs low and employees happy, and they have done it the right way, unlike some others out there.

Slight correction. It's Atkin. Pretty remarkable run for him at Skywest.

When his uncle recruited him to Skywest at age 25, the airline was in such bad shape that they couldn't even give it away. Nobody would take it. Jerry Atkin found a way to modify the agreements with creditors and turn the airline around. As a result he became the youngest president of an airline ever, when he assumed that job at 26 years old. He's still there and Skywest sure has changed.
It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems with just potatoes.
 
User avatar
autothrust
Posts: 1468
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2006 8:54 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:11 am

I wonder why none mentioned Tim Clark.

Since he joined Emirates as Head of Planning the Airline grew and grew. From some A330 and 757 to the amazing young and big fleet today.

The high quality product this airline offes is worldclass, at very competitive prices. Emirates is one of the most innovative and modern airline in the world.

Tim Clark was involved on some of the biggest orders ever. 150 A350XWB 58 A380

IMO he is one of the most successfull airline CEO in History.
Flown on: DC-9, MD-80, Fokker 100, Bae 146 Avro, Boeing 737-300, 737-400, 747-200, 747-300,747-400, 787-9, Airbus A310, A319, A320, A321, A330-200,A330-300, A340-313, A380, Bombardier CSeries 100/300, CRJ700ER/CRJ900, Embraer 190.
 
PanHAM
Posts: 9719
Joined: Fri May 06, 2005 6:44 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:20 am

One name is missing here bafter 46 replies - Juergen Weber of Lufthansa.

He not only transforemd a state owned company into a publicly traded corporation with zero state control. He also lead LH to one of the world market leaders and on top of all that, he was one of the first airline CEOs who forced the formation of alliances. Without Juergen Weber, Star Alliance would not be what it is today.

Juergen Weber was CEO of LH and still serves as Chairman of the Board.

Mr. Weber is certainly one of the game changers oin the industry.
Was Erlauben Erdogan!!!
 
OP3000
Posts: 345
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 5:45 pm

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:34 am



Quoting Condorito (Reply 19):
I nominate Sebastian Pinera of LAN. Look at how that airline has evolved in S. America.

That would be Enrique and Ignacio Cueto, CEO and President of LAN respectively. Pinera has never managed anything at LA - he's just been a major investor along with the Cueto's.

Also in the same region, Federico Bloch of TACA and Comandante Rolim of TAM (both deceased) are probably the other individual success stories of record.
 
BrouAviation
Posts: 280
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 6:31 am

Who Was The Most Successful CEO In The Industry

Wed Jan 27, 2010 8:50 am



Quoting AirFrnt (Reply 33):

Pan Am defined the rules for International flying, and their conventions - captains and first officers instead of pilots and co-pilots gave Aviation it's nautical flavor.

Wasn't that because they were using flying boats in the beginning, and that's where the nautical terms came from?
Never ask somebody if he's a pilot. If he is, he will let you know soon enough!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 21 guests

Popular Searches On Airliners.net

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos