When Bridget Blaise-Shamai was tapped to lead the AAdvantage program last month, being promoted to replace Suzanne Rubin, I noted that Kurt Stache moved over from Senior Vice President of Alliances and Partnerships to become Senior Vice President of Marketing & Loyalty.
So it looked like AAdvantage would report up to Stache, who reported up to the Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Nocella who reported up to American’s President Scott Kirby.
Of course Scott Kirby is out as American’s President and is now President of United. Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom was promoted to President.
And now American is re-organizing its executive teams. There’s a commercial team and an operations team, each reporting to Isom.
Under the new organization, senior vice president of revenue management Don Casey, senior vice president of network planning, alliances and sales Andrew Nocella, and senior vice president of marketing and loyalty Kurt Stache, will be part of the commercial team. The operations team will consist of senior vice president of regional carriers Kenji Hashimoto, senior vice president of customer experience Kerry Philipovitch and senior vice president of integrated operations David Seymour.
Nocella is now in charge of alliances and sales. And Stache reports directly to American’s new President.
Long-time American Airlines customers will remember that Kurt Stache used to be head of the AAdvantage program himself, and regarded as a straight shooter. It’s amazing to think that the AAdvantage award calendar was rolled out on his watch (it hasn’t been improved much since) as well as the program’s 25th anniversary offers.
The negative changes to AAdvantage that we’ve seen were driven by top executives no longer at or overseeing the program.
Of course we were always going to see a more revenue-based program. And award availability and AAnytime (extra miles redemption) award pricing are driven more by inventory and revenue management than by the frequent flyer program.
And while having the executives who drove negative program changes no longer directly responsible for the program isn’t a panacea for flyers by any means, there are at least smart people in charge with an understanding for how the program drives value to the airline. Stache has one other thing going for him, too: not being responsible for the much-maligned #GreatestFlyers campaign…
Meanwhile Starwood’s executives continue looking for a chair after the Marriott Merger Music stops, with head of global sales Alison Taylor becoming new Senior Vice President of Sales at American, reporting to Nocella.