Chew stays on at SIA

Singapore Airlines has extended the contract of its chief executive through the end of 2010. Chew Choon Seng's contract will now run through December 2010, having originally been due to expire in June 2009. A new three-year contract is replacing the previous service contract and it took effect in January.

Chew, a 35-year veteran of the carrier, has been chief executive since 2003. He was appointed to succeed long-serving Cheong Choong Kong who had led SIA for nearly 20 years.

In other appointments at SIA, senior vice-president planning Mak Swee Wah is being promoted to executive vice-president for operations and services, in charge of flight operations, cabin crew, engineering, and products and services. Ng Chin Hwee, who until last month was chief executive of subsidiary Singapore Airport Terminal Services, has returned to SIA as executive vice-president for human ­resources and planning.

Nicholas Ionides Singapore

New head for Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam's government has appointed a new president and chief executive for national carrier Vietnam Airlines, which is undergoing a major expansion while also preparing for a part-privatisation. Pham Ngoc Minh is the carrier's new leader, ­replacing Nguyen Sy Hung who remains as chairman.

Minh was previously head of the carrier's commercial department and he has been with Vietnam Airlines for many years. Hung had only been president and chief executive since early in 2007, although he had previously been chairman. He took on the additional responsibilities of president and chief executive to replace a retiring Nguyen Xuan Hien but the appointment was only expected to have been on a temporary basis.

Vietnam Airlines has been growing rapidly in recent years and has more ambitious growth plans for the period ahead, covering a route and fleet expansion that will see it adding many more Airbus A321s and ATR turboprops, as well as widebody A350s and Boeing 787s.

While preparing to face new competition at home from low-cost airlines, it is at the same time planning a partial privatisation, which is expected this year through an initial public offering.

Nicholas Ionides Singapore


Leonard bows out from AirTran

Joe Leonard, who guided AirTran Airways through a dramatic turnaround, re-branding and return to profitability, will leave the Florida-based carrier in May.

He is now chairman of the board, having passed his chief executive title to his long-time colleague Bob Fornaro. Fornaro was already president as well as a board member when Leonard announced that transition in ­November.

Leonard, 64, had long groomed Fornaro, who is 10 years younger, to succeed him. Both joined the company in 1999 as it struggled to shed its legacy as ValuJet, its original name.

With more than $2 billion in annual revenues, AirTran is now one of the largest low-fare players in the US, just behind JetBlue Airways in size. Based in Orlando, AirTran has recently committed to remain there, even though most of its operations are at Atlanta Hartsfield airport, where it competes with Delta Air Lines.

David Field Washington

Moss ready to launch open skies

Former British Airways veteran and director Dale Moss has returned to the airline he joined in 1970 to lead the launch of its new transatlantic start-up Open Skies. Moss was brought in last June to study the creation of a BA venture to operate New York to continental Europe services following the signing of last year's Open Skies pact between the US and Europe.

Moss will be managing director of the carrier, which aims to begin daily services from either JFK or Newark (depending on slot availability) to Paris or Brussels in June. It will start with a single Boeing 757 configured with 82 seats in a three-class cabin and build up to six aircraft by the end of 2009.

Moss, a US national, held a ­variety of senior and mostly sales and marketing related positions with BA, particularly in the US. He left the carrier in 2004 and was recruited by Jet Airways as its chief operating officer but left after just a few months at the ­Indian carrier.

Mark Pilling London


Source: Airline Business