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Southwest Airlines Announces Shifts in Executive Leadership



Southwest Airlines today revealed the re-assignment of three key roles within its executive Leadership structure for Air Operations.

After initially announcing his intention to retire in late 2019, Senior Vice President of Air Operations, Craig Drew, has since agreed to remain aboard at Southwest, transitioning into a Consultant role. Drew has enjoyed a long and distinguished career, having first joined the Southwest family in 1990 as a First Officer, and thereafter serving as a Captain, Check Airman, Chief Pilot for the LAS Flight Ops Base and Vice President of Flight Operations.

With Drew stepping down, Alan Kasher, who previously held the role of Vice President of Flight Operations, has been promoted to Senior Vice President of Air Operations in his place.

In his new position, Kasher will be responsible for the oversight of Flight Operations, Inflight Operations, Network Operations Control, and Regulatory Programs & Compliance. Kasher came to Southwest almost 20 years ago as a Pilot, transitioning to Captaincy in 2007. He went on to occupy various management positions in Flight Operations Safety and the former Operational Control Center, including serving as Director of Operations to oversee the Regulatory Programs and Compliance group.

Bob Waltz—formerly serving as Flight Operations Senior Director of Compliance and Operations, and Part 119 Certificate Chief Pilot—has also received a promotion and now claims the title of Vice President of Flight Operations. Waltz has served Southwest for over 20 years after having retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve as a C-130 Instructor/Evaluator Pilot and Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer. Other Leadership roles he has assumed at Southwest include Chief Pilot and Network Director for Network Operations Control. He has also served on the Operations Council Chair for Airlines for America, the Military Committee for the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association and as a Southwest Check Airman.

Waltz’ primary responsibility as Vice President Flight Operations will be providing leadership and assistance to Southwest’s nearly 10,000 Flight Operations Employees; supporting Flight Operations, including eleven Pilot domiciles; overseeing Crew Planning, Scheduling and Payroll; governing numerous Headquarters’ technical and support functions; and heading up the LEAD Center, home to Southwest’s world-class Pilot training programs.

“We’re incredibly fortunate to have such a deep bench of talent and leaders like Alan and Bob to continue to carry out the cause that is Southwest Airlines,” said Southwest Airlines Chief Operating Officer, Mike Van de Ven. “These are exciting times for our Company, and I’m confident that these moves will set us up for continued success in the future.”

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United Puts Financial Losses Into Shocking Perspective



With the demand for travel at an all-time low thanks to stay-at-home directives and severe travel restrictions, United Airlines on Thursday put the industry’s financial losses into a stark perspective.

According to the aviation blog The Points Guy, which had privy to view a virtual town hall held by the carrier, United is losing “over $100 million a day” due to the impact of the coronavirus global pandemic, United president Scott Kirby said.

Kirby conducted the town hall along with current CEO Oscar Munoz, who is stepping down in favor of Kirby later this year.

As The Points Guy pointed out, United cut almost 70 percent of its schedule in April with further cuts likely for May—as all airlines have. In fact, predictions going forward are dire. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said they expect airlines to lose a collective $61 billion in the second quarter of this year (April, May and June).

United said it will pursue some of the $25 billion in grants available for employee compensation from the U.S. government stimulus package, as well as consider whether to apply for some of the $25 billion in loans. But this is all uncharted territory for the industry, even after the financial devastation from the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“One of the lessons from this is, our stress test from 9/11 wasn’t stressful enough,” Kirby said in reference to United’s preparations and need for cash to keep operating.

United has not decided whether to permanently retire any jets as a result of the coronavirus, according to The Points Guy.

“If we want to emerge stronger, if we want to emerge the world’s leading airline on the other side of this, we have to have flexibility,” he said.

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