Air Transport World

Patience and patients: Spirit Airlines embraces a go-slow approach to growth while its CEO brings a medical outlook to the business.(Profile)(Jacob Schorr)(Company Profile)

When he joined Spirit Airlines in 1997, Jacob Schorr, a biochemist by training and the former co-owner of a successful medical laboratory, couldn't help but refer to the airline's customers as "patients." In his view, this wasn't too much of a stretch. Like patients, passengers require special care and handling with meticulous attention to detail.

Placing high value on patient needs was something that helped shape Schorr's professional life in the world of medicine and biological sciences and it has continued to serve him well as president and CEO of Spirit. "In essence, that's my philosophy. That's the kind of care our passengers deserve--the same kind of care the patients get in the medical system," he tells ATW.

Schorr has taken an unconventional flight path to the top of the discount carrier. A transport-rated pilot, he combines a love of aviation with a businessman's savvy. Having sold his medical laboratory business earlier in the decade, he invested in Spirit, joined its board of directors and was named CIO, a natural progression from his most recent position as VP and director-information systems at Coming Clinical Laboratories. When Spirit founder, Chairman and CEO Ned Homfeld relinquished the latter role in 2000, Schorr was named to succeed him. Homfeld and Schorr make up two-thirds of the airline's ownership triumvirate; the third member is Vice Chairman and General Counsel Mark Kahan. …

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