01 July 2007

Man of the (half) Year 2007

Now we have 6 months under our belts - we would like to nominate the person who we believe exemplifies the best there is in the Aviation, Travel and Tourism sectors. Our nominee from a large field of possible candidates rose head and shoulders above everyone.

Gerald Grinstein deserves the title.

Successfully piloting Delta into, through and now out of Chapter 11 he managed to turn the oil tanker around without creating too much disturbance and disruption amongst the key stakeholders - Customers, Staff and the financial community.

Specifically he tried much harder than his counterparts at UAL and NWA to preserve the base before finally stepping into Chapter 11 when there was no real option but to do it. He is to be commended for trying not to destroy too much of the shareholders equity.

He managed to fend off the unwitting advances of AWA/US Airways which despite looking good on paper would have been a complete disaster. At the same time he also managed to hold off TPG's advances.

While in Chapter 11 his team reformed the airline from the inside out. Not only shedding costs but also changing business practices and processes for better customer experience at a lower cost. While the pillow removal may have galvanized a lot of attention underneath DL really did change the way it did business and has emerged much more competitive.

Finally from a personal integrity point of view while he fellow CEOs were gouging themselves in stock and cash incentives (for doing their job) Jerry took home a modest $300K for his efforts.

Time will be the ultimate judge of his legacy at Delta. As the article in the WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118307487060552233-search.html?KEYWORDS=United+Airlines+UAL&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month on UAL's progress shows that it can stall pretty quickly DL has a long road ahead. We believe that UAL and NWA remain pretty sick and have many issues to contend with. DL itself has some significant customer service issues (as my forced overnight in the ATL airport last week attests). Lets hope they keep getting it right.

His long service at both Western and Delta should be recognized. We believe he is a solid example to which many of us should aspire.

To Jerry - we salute you

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