Air Transport World


                          TWA fleet plan                    Aircraft In fleet at yearend    Type Number of seats 1996 1997 1998 1999    DC-9     77-115        58   58   58   58   MD-80     140-142       53   67   78   79     727       145         39   29   23   15     767       192         14   14   16   16     757       180          3   15   16   22     747       434         14    3    0    0  L-1011       254         11    0    0    0                          192  186  191  190  SOURCE: TWA      

Will TWA make it? How many times have you heard that in the past 10 years ... 20 years? Who knows? But Trans World Airlines is going through yet another metamorphosis with yet another new management team. The experienced and relatively young (average age 50) senior executives are doing things that are gaining the favor of customers and maybe even some securities analysts.

The airline has pleased its customers enough to go off with 1998's Frequent Flyer/J.D. Power award for customer satisfaction, the same award that Continental Airlines won the previous two years. One analyst even said last December that TWA "... should make it through the winter with relative ease." It did. And it reported significantly improved results. Not profits, but for an airline that was averaging $263.4 million in annual operating losses for the first seven years of this decade, they were impressive. In 1997, operating loss was just $29.3 million. More important, TWA's new management has made changes and injected an intensity into the airline that appears to be building a momentum that could produce sustainable profits for the long term. That is the goal.

In the second half of 1996, due in part to general squabbles, discouraging financial results and the horrors of the July, 1996, Flight 800 accident, senior management, for the most part, disappeared. A director, David M. Kennedy, formerly the very successful CEO of Aer Lingus, filled in as acting chief operating officer of TWA from Oct. 23, 1996, to June 4, 1997. He is staying on as a director.

The current senior management team:

* Gerald L. Gitner, 53, chairman and chief executive. Early in his career, when TWA was headquartered in New York, Gitner worked there (1968-74) as one of the youngest VPs in the industry. He has done many things since, including helping develop "peanuts fares" for Frank Lorenzo at Texas International, and cofounding People Express with Donald Burr.

* Capt. William F. Compton, 50, president and chief operating officer since Dec. 3, 1997. Compton still flies MD-80s at TWA when he can; first employed by TWA in 1968 as a pilot, he has held many senior positions with the Air Line Pilots Assn. He recalls the TWA tradition of pilots, or aviators, if you prefer, rising to executive positions at the airline: Lindbergh, Earhart and Jack Frye, for example.

* Donald M. Casey, 62, executive VP-marketing since May 29, 1997. Previously worked for TWA, 1968-81, part of the time as senior VP-marketing.

* James F. Martin, 48, senior VP-human resources since Oct. 29, 1997; no previous airline experience.

* Michael J. Palumbo, 51, senior VP and chief financial officer since Dec. 20, 1996. Formerly was TWA VP and treasurer, and has been with TWA since 1994. Was in finance with both Western Airlines and Pan Am before that. …

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