Volume 15
April 8, 2024

A Weekly Aviation Career
Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.

A Weekly Aviation Career Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.
Aviation Career Topics
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Young Adults in Aviation
Young Adults in Aviation Par
Working On The Goodyear Blim
WHS Aircraft Training Center
What Aviation Employers Expe
Virtual Flying
Virgin America Takes Flight
Video Job Profiles
The History Of Flight Attend
The Gratitude Campaign
Recruiting Minorities to Avi
Pilot Promotes Aviation Care
Pilot Completes Trip
Pay Hikes and Bonuses
Northwest Airlines Hiring
No Ordinary Flight Instructo
Jumpseat Ride Flying Charter
Joe Jones Aviations True Spi
Is an FAA Career for You
IATA Reports On Airline Traf
Hubble Multimedia Package
Honda Aircraft Company
History Of Flight Attendants
Having Fun for a Living
Gordon Page Warbird Recovery
Funding Prevents Furloughs
Flying The Canyon
Flight Simulation
Flight Attendants Contract
FAA To Hire 15000
FAA Bumps Retirement Age
Encourage a New Generation
Delta Promises Stability
Corporate Flight Attendant J
Congress Recognizes Irving
Colorado Astronauts
Climb Aviations Career Ladde
Cirrus Design
Changing Careers
Career Profile Airline Pilot
Career Profile Airline CEO
Boeing Enjoys Sales Spike
Barrington Irving on CNN
Aviations Renaissance Man
Aviation Salaries Wages Pay
Aviation Photography
Aviation Pay Philosophies
Aviation Employee Competenci
Aviation Career Salary Range
Aviation Career Overviews
Armed Pilots Refresher Train
An Aerobatic Superstar
American Warns Unions
Airline Ramp Agents
Airline Overhead Bins
Airline Merger Update
Airline Flight Attendant Car
Aircraft Sales
Aircraft Maintenance Technic
Air Traffic Controller Caree
Aerospace Engineering
A Life in Aviation
A Career in Virtual Aviation
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A Weekly Aviation Career Newsletter from Avjobs, Inc.
Aviation Career Profile

AvjobsWeekly Career Profile: Airline CEO

While pilots enjoy one of the more visible careers in the airline industry, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the person eventually responsible for all the good (and bad) that occurs at an airline. This is a high-stress job (to say the least) but those individuals that help guide a carrier to profitability seem to enjoy an almost rock-start status in the industry. A few notable airline CEOs have made the news headlines over the last few weeks. Here are a few examples:

Just a few weeks ago, Midwest Air Group CEO Tim Hoeksema urged shareholders to reject AirTran's $345 million offer to acquire the airline. In a letter to shareholders filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, Hoeksema said a merger would lead to crowded planes and poor service and he criticized AirTran's recent earnings. An AirTran executive fired back and claimed his airline has been profitable for eight years and that the offer will create value for shareholders.

Meanwhile, Northwest Airlines CEO Doug Steenland says his airline is “fixed” and prepared to exit bankruptcy protection as an independent airline. However, he also said there will likely be airline consolidation at some point. The now defunct proposed merger between Delta Air Lines and US Airways would have forced other airlines to consider their options”, he said.

Last but not least, US Airways CEO Doug Parker didn't respond well to Delta Air Lines' creditors who lagged in responding to his airline's merger bid. “We've got a company to run,” Parker said. “We're not going to keep chasing this thing, even though we've got a bunch of people telling us we should.”

See What It's All About
One of the World's most successful airlines is Virgin Atlantic Airways. Its eccentric founder, Sir Richard Branson, is a highly successful entrepreneur that enjoys thinking outside of ‘the box'. Overseeing the airline's parent company, Virgin Group, Sir Richard has taken on other airline projects including a successful carrier in Australia called Virgin Blue. An offshoot of that airline is Pacific Blue, a smaller carrier based in Christchurch, New Zealand. Avjobs.com interviewed Tony Marks, the airline's former CEO, who gave us great insight into the nuances of running an airline and the unique business philosophy Pacific Blue and Branson's other airlines operate by. We invite you to watch this interesting interview on the above video screen.”

Climbing the Management Ladder
Being the CEO of an airline is not the kind of job that someone just slips into. Typically these airline big wigs worked their way up the corporate ranks. In some cases, they've been recruited from similar positions other industries. Historically, most airline CEOs have spent a considerable amount of time in some type of the management structure.

 A good example is Joe Leonard, CEO of AirTran Airways has been climbing the airline industry's ladder his whole life. Unlike many airline executives who are groomed at Ivy League schools and rise through the elite ranks of finance, the 60-year-old executive came up through the operations side of the business.

Leonard first earned a degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn University and then joined Northwest Airlines' maintenance operation at Minneapolis, overseeing the care of two engine models. In his previous jobs at Northwest, American and Eastern, Leonard learned the business from the inside.

Leonard may have been born to work at an airline but his experience at Eastern in Miami almost drove him from the industry for good. As president, he ran the airline day-to-day and dealt with labor unions. Leonard resigned in 1990 when a bankruptcy judge named a trustee to run Eastern. It shut down the next year. Leonard left for Northwest, then fled airlines altogether to run AlliedSignal's aerospace unit. After he took AirTran's reigns in 1999 after the conclusion of the ValueJet crash investigation in the Florida's Everglades, the airline's subsequent quick rise made Leonard a star. During that time, he earned $1 million in salary and bonus, more than many CEOs of large legacy carriers.

AirTran now flies mainly in the East and upper Midwest, but is quickly expanding across the country, into Mexico and the Caribbean. Many of Leonard's peers say he's taken pride in AirTran's labor relations. For example, he's careful to call all AirTran employees “crew members,” even those who don't work on the airplanes. After the Sept. 11 attacks, Leonard and the rest of management took voluntary pay cuts along with labor. As a result, AirTran had to lay off only 84 employees, a small fraction of its workforce.

Unlike some airlines with layers of support staff, AirTran has one secretary for every two managers. The airline's modest one-story headquarters is compact and there's no dining room for all to enjoy. So, lunch is often a fat sandwich from a nearby sub shop. All of this is characteristic of Leonard's motto: “Keep it simple, and say 'no' a lot.”


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