Who would want to be the CEO of an airline?

Tuesday, 23 December 2008 05:04 by The Lunatic


I love to fly, and I was a pretty serious “road warrior” for many years.  From the mid-80’s through the late 90’s, I travelled the world on business, racking up over 750,000 flight miles (this is actual miles flown, not counting bonus miles and frequent flyer credits).  I’m sure I’ve added at least another 250,000 miles on various trips since then, so I think I’ve flown more than a million miles in my life.

Whew, that’s a lot of time in an out of airports, going through security, eating those absolutely YUMMY meals they serve up …

I can’t imagine what the world would be like without airlines – it’s a fascinating business that’s indispensible to our modern economy and lifestyle. But for the life of me, I can’t think of a job that would be worse than being the CEO of an airline.

Think of it this way – you have HUGE capital investments, low margins, four different unions you have to contend with (Pilots, Mechanics, Flight Attendants, and Baggage Handlers) – any of which can shut you down just because they decide they are entitled to … something.  You are at the mercy of the weather, mechanical failures, whining passengers, terrorists, willy-nilly lawmakers, fluctuating fuel prices, gate fees, intense competition, and you never know when you’re going to get that call in the middle of the night telling you that one of your planes has gone down, killing a few hundred people.

Then you have random events like the political protests in Thailand last month, which shut the airport down for over a week.  The airlines not only lost all that business in and out of Bangkok, but think of all the connecting flights that were disrupted, and the tens of thousands of angry passengers that had to be re-booked.

Really, this has to be the most stressful job in the world!

As a passenger, I know how frustrating it is to have delayed or cancelled flights, lost luggage, long lines, shrinking seat width, reduced legroom, new fees that seem to crop up out of nowhere. But overall, I’ve been a pretty happy customer - my life wouldn't be the same without the travel that I've been able to do. I love the airlines, I just wouldn’t want to run one!


Categories:   Economics
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Comments (1) -

December 24. 2008 05:16

I haven't had the luxury of being able to travel as much as you apparantly have, but I've always been amazed that the airlines can withstand all these issues that you talk about.  All I hear about is how horrible airline service is and how much the industry needs to be regulated. Nice to see this viewpoint from a seasoned traveller.

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