Can He Help Break Approval Gridlock?
Talk about a blast from
the past... Virgin America announced Monday the airline has
appointed Don Carty (right), former CEO of American Airlines'
parent company AMR, as non-executive chairman for the US start-up
"I'm really excited about the business plan that Virgin America
has," Carty told Fortune Magazine Monday. "We have an awful lot of
capital, a very good management team. And the Virgin brand is just
the icing on the cake."
Carty comes onboard as Virgin America has hit something of a
stalemate in its quest for federal regulatory approval -- stemmed,
at least in part, by domestic airlines not thrilled with the
prospect of competing with Virgin on American soil.
Airline executives hope Carty's experience with running an
airline -- as well as his connections in Washington -- will help VA
break through the gridlock, fueled by questions of where VA is
getting its investment capitol.
"[Domestic airlines] have competed against Richard Branson
before," said Carty, "so they are going to be concerned, but they
don't want to be wrong, and it's obvious that US investors control
Carty's tenure at American ended in 2003, when he was ousted amid
controversy over his -- and other executives' -- large
pay packages, as unions were being asked to cut their wages.
Carty told Fortune he doesn't hold any ill will towards
"I have the utmost respect for everyone at [American]," Carty
told the magazine Monday. "It is the only legacy carrier not to
disappear or go bankrupt."
Virgin America, which is partially backed by Virgin CEO Sir
Richard Branson, has been trying for three years to begin service
from San Francisco. Carty says the timeframe is in the hands of the
"Obviously we don't want to be presumptuous when it comes to the
DOT," he told Fortune. "We hope soon."