Did United steal American’s President?

Well, a bit of shocking news just crossed my desk: Scott Kirby, President of American Airlines, has been replaced by Robert Isom to fill the same role.

DFW Founders Plaza

American Airlines 777-200

Executive moves happen fairly frequently so it’s not entirely surprising to see Kirby, 49, move on.

What was surprising was seeing a news release moments later from United Airlines announcing none other than Scott Kirby as the new president!

It would certainly appear to me that United may have recruited Kirby away but I’m not basing that on any inside information, please do not take my account as accurate.  This is surprising to me because, like pilots, airline executives frequently move up after working for the same airline for a number of years.  Maybe this was a planned move by Kirby and United simply seized the opportunity.  The ultimate truth is probably somewhere in between.

What does this mean for the everyday flyer?

Probably very little.  While I didn’t always like the way Scott Kirby phrased things (his constant “innovation” comments about the AAdvantage program were rather annoying) I wish him nothing but the best in his new role.

Here’s hoping Robert Isom, himself a capable airline executive, will help lead American into a new era of operational reliability and financial performance while still valuing customer loyalty.

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