Freighter operator Southern Air named Robert L. Crandall, the former American Airlines chairman credited with revolutionizing airline industry management, to its board of directors, the company announced Monday.
The position is the first Crandall has taken directly with an airline since leaving American and its parent AMR more than 10 years ago and significantly raises the profile of an all-cargo airline that has grown to include a fleet of 16 widebody aircraft.
“Bob is renowned in the industry, and his decision to join our board is an important endorsement of what we are accomplishing at Southern Air,” said Daniel J. McHugh, Southern Air’s CEO.
Southern Air operates 14 747s and two 777 freighters in the outsourced aircraft leasing business called ACMI, for the aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance that the company provides to its airline customers. Southern dates its history to 1947, but the current Norwalk, Conn.-based business is the second incarnation of the Miami-based freight airline that ceased operations more than a decade ago.
Crandall has never been directly involved in the all-cargo business, but the former marketing executive from Hallmark Cards is famous in the airline industry for the leadership he brought to American. He created the frequent flyer programs that have become a model for customer loyalty across the retail business world, and he is widely credited with advancing yield management systems in airline ticket sales that have spread to areas as diverse as hotel rooms and sporting events.
Southern Air is owned by a private equity firm, Oak Hill Capital Partners, and Crandall gives the business a dynamic presence as it seeks the capital to expand.
“Southern Air is one of the most experienced and fastest growing air cargo carriers in the world,” said Crandall. “The company has an exceptional record of performance and great potential in its markets.”