Why are there so many disappointing airline CEOs?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by MSYgirl, Nov 19, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    [article]

    Faced with an array of inertial forces, great leaders in the airline business have been conspicuous by their absence. There are few standouts, but can their skills be replicated? Or, worryingly, do today’s CEOs even want to change? Benchmarking airline companies against each other and often employed on short-term contracts, there are forceful and counter-productive incentives to continue doing things pretty much the same way, but faster.

    And can they really make a lasting difference in this heavily regulated business anyway?

    One current leader who has undoubtedly been successful in generating profitability is Michael O’Leary, CEO of the European LCC, Ryanair. In many ways he shares some of Steve Jobs’ innovative creativity, albeit within the shackles of often-ludicrous regulatory constraints. Yet he is abrasive publicly, has had a relatively high turnover of management (although junior staff tend to have greater longevity) and can hardly be said to have sympathetic people skills.

    Even though he is recently suggesting he may have a fuzzy side to him, Mr O’Leary could not be further removed from the progenitors of the low-cost model his airline emulates – Southwest Airlines.

    Southwest founder Herb Kelleher would be most people’s pick as the best airline CEO of all time (at first with Lamar Muse and later supported by Colleen Barrett). A tough lawyer and businessman, he was inspirational, innovative, constantly generated profits and, above all, established a remarkable culture in what became the granddaddy of all LCCs. Like Mr Jobs, he changed an industry. Moreover, the Southwest culture was institutionalised, so that it has survived into the next generation of leadership.
     
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  2. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Hmmm, it's hard to imagine who would want to be an airline CEO in today's hyper-competitive global market. Just a few years ago, many airlines were continuing to decline, and it appeared unlikely that they would survive another decade. Now, many airlines (at least in the American market) nickel-and-dime their passengers to death with charges for luggage, food, when to board the bus plane, etc. Seemingly anything that can be charged to the air-travelling consumer is now passed along as an expense. I'm waiting for the coming airline charge for fresh cabin air supplied from a face mask from one of the more innovative airlines! :eek:

    The bottom line is that many of the airlines have found ways to become profitable, although I doubt that has made them easier to manage in the highly regulated world of air travel. And I guess that as long as the airlines can safely travel their passengers from point A to point B without mishap, they will continue to be a source of endless discussion from their customers - as witnessed by Milepoint and TOBB! ;)

    Looking for warm, fuzzy airline CEOs? Who cares, as long as air travel remains safe and affordable? :)
     
  3. milchap
    Original Member

    milchap Gold Member

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    Why ?
    Perhaps because the expected FF freebies are going the way of the Dodo Bird. :)
     
  4. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    Why just limit the conversation to Airline CEO's? Seems like many corporate CEOs could be classified as "disappointing".
     
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  5. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Mapsmith is right on!

    So many corporations are being run by "Gordon Gekko's" (real-life modern-day corporate lizards), that it's hard to tell them apart! In case you missed the speech by Michael Douglas in the movie "Wall Street", see a clip from it at:

    Newscience
     

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