There’s been tremendous speculation over what the American Airlines board would do now that the company has managed to alienate shareholders, employees and customers alike.
The loss of their pending joint venture with LATAM to Delta, and being taken wholly by surprise by the development, seemed to open the floodgates of criticism within the company and spawned a cottage industry of speculation that the airline’s board would finally take action – in advance of reporting earnings later this month.
While I certainly modeled that this time could be different it’s been hard to bet that the board would make a change precisely because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and they haven’t done anything up until now.
Today American Airlines made a series of leadership changes none of which involve the C-Suite.
- Kerry Philipovitch, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, is leaving the airline at the end of the year. She ran customer experience at US Airways and was management’s hand-picked leader for their product.
- David Seymour, Vasu Raja, Don Casey, and Kurt Stache all get varying amounts of additional responsibility. This is a reward for existing leadership, not a change in direction.
David Seymour is the airline’s Senior Vice President of Intergrated Operations. American Airlines ran a truly appalling operation this summer. As a reward, then, Seymour is given “leadership for all of American’s operations.”
Vasu Raja, who’s in charge of Network Planning, gets a promotion to Senior Vice President and will also oversee alliances and partnerships. Don Casey, who is Senior Vice President in charge of revenue management, will oversee sales as well. And Kurt Stache broadens his marketing and loyalty portfolio to oversee additional customer experience areas.
Jill Surdek, whom I would have guessed to take Philipovitch’s place directly, gets promoted to Senior Vice President of Flight Service, and will report to Stache.
As they say, “If all you do is what you’ve done, all you’ll get is what you got.”
None of this represents change for the airline, instead it’s a shuffling of roles and reporting. Interestingly this announcement of changes to leadership does not include the words Doug Parker. I might have expected Parker, under normal circumstances, to have a quote included in the release.