The New York Times first reported that former Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson will step down as Amtrak CEO in favor of William Flynn, the former CEO of cargo and charter airline Atlas Air. Subsequently Amtrak confirmed the news.
The national railroad’s board of directors is expected to announce this week that William J. Flynn, the chairman and former chief executive of Atlas Air Worldwide, will succeed Richard Anderson as chief executive of Amtrak, according to people familiar with the decision.
Anderson brought changes to Amtrak aligning it more with airlines (in generally passenger-unfriendly ways).
- Eliminating and reducing discounts
- Imposing negative changes on its loyalty program without even telling members (let alone giving advance notice)
- Adding fees to tickets
- Cutting back meals
Changes have been in service of a new strategy, focusing more on short trips rather than long ones that are better served by air and focusing on travel between large population centers. The ultimate goal has been to stem losses at the government train operator.
However most of the readouts on Anderson’s tenure will repeat the falsehood that Amtrak is covering almost all of its operatings costs and will be profitable in 2020. To accomplish this chicanery Amtrak counts government subsidies from states as ‘passenger revenue’ and excludes depreciation expenses (20% of total expenses).
In fact Amtrak’s 2019 losses are about 35 times greater than reported. In other words they inflate Amtrak’s revenue and ignore costs in a creative accounting scheme to make Amtrak look like a financially responsible operation.
Amtrak says that Anderson ‘completed his three year commitment’ to the train service made in July 2017, that Flynn will take over April 15, but that Anderson will remain as an advisor through end of year.