This week I read two different pieces with very similar titles that talked about the restructuring happening within the management of American Airlines:
- American Rearranges the Deck Chairs – Cranky Flier
- Re-arranging the Deck Chairs of American Airlines Management – View from the Wing
Now, I don’t claim to know a whole lot about airline management, corporate management, or the details of what happens within the C-suite or SVP level of any company. But I found both of these analyses interesting, and both concluded that the changes were more window dressing than any fundamental shift. Given American’s terrible operations this summer, a more substantial change seems in order.
There was also one interesting observation that bears reiterating.
American Airlines Has No Anything of Loyalty
This stood out to me. The current SVP of Marketing, Loyalty, and Sales is being moved to the SVP of Customer Experience. “Loyalty” disappears entirely, and so does the word “Marketing”. According to the Cranky Flier, both the marketing and loyalty teams will still be reporting to Kurt Stache, the new SVP of Customer Experience. Even the folks with “Customer Experience” in their title are awkwardly split in the new organizational chart tree.
I find it funny that American, an airline that has had a loyal following for years, apparently no longer considers loyalty important enough to have the attention of any senior vice president. I’m sure it wasn’t a truly intentional change to purge the title from the SVP lineup. But it is rather telling of where loyalty management falls on American’s list of priorities.
American’s Changes May Not Be Enough
The tide might be turning at American, but not because of any of these changes. They posted their best month of on-time performance in two years in September after an absolutely abysmal summer. Plagued by the 737MAX grounding and a spat with their mechanics union, things may finally be looking up for the world’s largest airline. We’ll see how long I consider them the country’s worst airline.
But this does not mean that they aren’t in need of a change in leadership and/or direction. It’s crazy to me that American has a market cap of just $12.2 billion, compared to the $34.2 billion valuation of Delta Air Lines. American has slid significantly from their max of $38 billion in early 2015.
I’ve read all about the upset customers. If I was a shareholder, I’d also be more than a little upset. I’d also hate to be the VP of Alliances and Partnerships right now, given the situation with LATAM.