Step forward the next Emirates CEO

Having edited the Airline Business appointments page for what, seven years, now, I feel comfortable reading the tea leaves when it comes to career progression.

So, the revelation that Ghaith Saeed Al Ghaith, currently executive vice-president of operations at Emirates, is being rewarded with the job of leading Dubai’s soon-to-be launched low-cost carrier leads me to believe that the next step for this accomplished airline manager will be to lead Emirates itself someday.

Since it was launched in the mid-1980s, Emirates has been led by Maurice Flanagan with Tim Clark coming along later to head up the airline part of the group. Ghaith has risen under their guidance to become the most senior local in the Emirates management team.

For me the promotion to this high-profile launch is a major boost for Ghaith’s career and an obvious demonstration of the confidence being placed in him by Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

I would expect Ghaith to lead the new carrier through the launch phase and then to return to Emirates at the highest level, possibly after 2-4 years, having absorbed lots of good new experience along the way.

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3 Responses to Step forward the next Emirates CEO

  1. Sveinn Gudmundsson 29 March, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    He will need all the advice he can get and learn from the large pool of past mistakes on traditional airline’s low-cost subsidiaries – that tend to be repeated with a surprising persistance.

    Sveinn Gudmundsson
    Professor Strategy
    Toulouse Business School

  2. Mark Pilling 1 April, 2008 at 10:39 am #

    You are absolutely right Sveinn, the list of failed experiments or the disappeared is long: Song, Go, Tango, Continental Lite etc.

    In our view, one of the most recent and successful appears to be Qantas and its work with Jetstar.

  3. Ken Borough 1 April, 2008 at 12:12 pm #

    Jetstar’s purported “success” and its establishment requires very close examination as it was not a genuine start-up carrier. It was raised from the ashes of the Australian carrier Impulse that was taken over by Qantas and morphed into QantasLink. Many of Jetstar start-up costs were less than they would have been had Jetstar started its life as a genuine ab initio carrier: little money was spent on route development as most of its domestic routes (and a lot of committed traffic) were handed to it on a platter by Qantas. Similarly, much of its purchasing and other back-office needs were leveraged by Qantas.

    Before Jetstar, Qantas attempted to establish a LCC in the form of Australian Airlines (AO) that turned out a flop while its second attempt – Jetstar Asia – is by all accounts somewhat a failure that is being kept afloat and alive because its owners have very deep pockets.

    Given time, I suspect that Jetstar will morph into Qantas as I believe that the sole purpose of Jetstar’s creation was to lower the cost of its pilots and cabin crew. This has been done by Qantas in respect of cabin crew as there are now in effect A and B scales as well as cheap labor from off-shore bases. Qantas mainline pilots are yet to be ‘broken’.

    In summary Mark, I’m glad you conditioned your final statement by “appears”!

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