What American Airline’s Leadership Change Means For The Carrier

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American Airlines has sadly announced the retirement of Kerry Philipovitch, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, at the end of 2019. The departure of this long-serving staff member will mean a new opportunity for the carrier to revamp its customer experience leadership structure.

American Airlines
American Airlines is changing their leadership structure. Photo: American Airlines

Who is Kerry Philipovitch?

Ms Philipovitch began her aviation career in 1996 as a pricing analyst for Northwest Airlines, segueing into US Airways and eventually ending up at American Airlines thanks to all the successive mergers. She held roles from pricing to revenue management, to customer bookings and eventually overseeing the entire customer experience at American Airlines.

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Kerry Philipovitch. Photo: American Airlines

“American is far better because of Kerry’s contributions, including her work to promote passengers’ rights, support our diversity and inclusion initiatives, and launch innovative customer service training for team members.” – American Airlines President Robert Isom in a press release.

She is retiring out of the aviation industry but will remain on board to oversee the transition to the new leadership model.

What does this mean for American Airlines?

American Airlines has seized this transition as an opportunity to replace Ms. Philipovitch’s role, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, with four roles each covering a different area of customer experience.

They will be Operations, Network Strategy, Revenue and Customer Experience.

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“This is an opportunity to sharpen our focus on the key parts of our airline: running a reliable operation, expanding the world’s best network, maximizing all aspects of revenue to ensure American thrives forever, and delivering a superior customer journey as we create a world-class customer experience,” continued Isom. “This restructure puts innovative and extremely capable leaders at the forefront of these initiatives.”

With a greater focus on each pillar of the business, it is likely that American Airlines will be able to focus more attention on each smaller issue that crops up for the carrier.

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Who will be the new leaders at American Airlines?

So far American Airlines has handpicked four personnel to lead each role.

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David Seymour. Photo: American Airlines

David Seymour, Senior Vice President of Operations, will oversee not only maintain passenger operations with his team but now also cargo for the carrier (managed by Jim Butler) and regional operations including American Eagle (led by Devon May).

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Raja Vasu. Photo: American Airlines

Vasu Raja, Senior Vice President of Network Strategy, will oversee the global strategy for the firm including alliances and partnerships with other airlines. This is possibly one of the cooler roles as this leader is required to explore new potential joint ventures for the airline around the world.

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Don Casey. Photo: American Airlines

Don Casey, Senior Vice President of Revenue, in charge of sales, pricing management and revenue initiatives. With someone solely dedicated to the pricing and financial side of things, they will be able to offer a better customer pricing relationship long term.

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Kurt Stache. Photo: American Airlines

Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, will be in charge of the many touchpoints that a customer experiences on their American Airlines journey. Customer service and loyalty will also now fall under this umbrella.

All of these roles will individually report to American Airlines President Robert Isom.

We will miss her, but Kerry has more than earned the right to do what is best for her and her family. Thankfully she has trained a stellar group of leaders who will carry on her legacy to drive operational excellence with the utmost care for our team.” – Continued  President Robert Isom.

Whether or not any of these leadership changes will lead to actual improvements to customer experience remains to be seen, such as less cramped seats, bringing the Boeing 737 MAX back or better pricing, but we will keep a close eye.

What changes do you hope to see with customer experience at American Airlines? Let us know in the comments.

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