Kerry Skeen, Deflecting Blame Even at the End

Even after burning through over $100 million and announcing the airline’s closure, Independence Air CEO Kerry Skeen blames everything but himself for the airline’s failure.

    But Skeen, the airline’s unyielding chief executive, blamed its demise on a combination of troubles, including record high fuel prices and cutthroat competition from other airlines.

He’s shocked that competitors would respond aggressively? Then he’s an idiot. And fuel was not to blame for the problems faced by Independence Air — if fuel had been free they’d have still been losing money.

The business plan flawed: a high per-seat cost and low fares, high-frequencies to destinations that couldn’t support the capacity, and even an initial unwillingness to list the airline’s flights in computer reservation systems.

And Skeen wouldn’t even take the life preservers that were thrown to him:

    Analysts say Skeen passed by several opportunities to save the airline — and thousands of jobs. Phoenix-based Mesa Air Group Inc. tried to buy the airline in 2003 for about $512 million. Skeen fought that hostile takeover in court. Months later, United Airlines began searching for additional regional partners, opening the door for Independence to return to its roots as part of its regional fleet. Skeen decided against that as well.

And the most he can muster is “We all make mistakes, I made some mistakes along the way. But I have no regrets. It was a very difficult time in the industry.”

We can only hope no one gives this many another chance.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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