Delta poached JetBlue’s Head of Revenue and Planning in January. Scott Laurence was JetBlue’s architect of the “Northeast Alliance” with American Airlines before becoming Delta’s Vice President of Network Planning.
It was a shocking move. The knowledge he was taking with him of American-JetBlue strategy sent shockwaves. It’s the alliance between American and JetBlue that sets up the two to compete against Delta. The Department of Justice, in part at Delta’s behest, is suing to stop it. And Delta poached one of the key insiders who could help in that fight.
And then… in February Laurence was gone from Delta. It was all a great big mystery. But now he’s resurfaced – moving to American Airlines, as confirmed by Alison Sider of the Wall Street Journal:
Scott Laurence helped design an alliance that was supposed to help JetBlue and American take on Delta and United. Then he went to work at Delta. In a new twist, he's now heading to American.
— Aly Sider (@alyrose) March 2, 2022
It was striking to me that such a senior executive at JetBlue could decamp for Delta, with no non-compete in place. But American Airlines senior executives don’t have them.
This all raises so many questions for which I have few answers. When he arrived and abruptly departed Delta, I wondered whether lawyers and confidential information was somehow involved. Maybe the threat of his involvement with Delta was so great that American Airlines backed a truck up to lure him away quickly before there was a chance for him to reveal anything? And now one wonders whether he picked up any secrets while working at Delta that he brings with him back to the Northeast Alliance!
The man, though, will have worked for 3 different airlines in two months in a very senior capacity and it’s all so.. mysterious. What he’ll be doing at American, at least, we now know. As the airline tells Zach Griff,
Laurence is joining the Fort Worth-based carrier in a new role created especially for him. He’s heading up a team that oversees oneworld partnerships, cobrand (not to be confused with loyalty) and NDC, or new distribution capability, which is an industry technology that lets airlines better sell and market their products.
Laurence will report directly to Vasu Raja, American’s chief commercial officer, when he starts his new job in the coming days.
The split between cobrand credit cards and loyalty is an interesting thing in itself, since there’s no Vice President in charge of American AAdvantage and a decision was taken to split the team between all things related to air travel on the one hand and the selling miles (partner) business on the other in a re-organization that focuses clear accountability on revenue generation.