To mark the 25th anniversary of Airline Business, 25 leading airline industry executives who have helped shape the sector over the last quarter century, give their reflections on the last 25 years and the challenges for the years to come. Here three of the most influential airline leaders from North America share their thoughts with us:

Dave Barger, JetBlue

JetBlue chief executive Dave Barger on how the customer's travel experience has and will continue to evolve. He writes:

Dave Barger 
"The Latin American airline industry has undergone dramatic change over the past 25 years. Two decades ago, the region was dominated by state-owned, unprofitable airlines. Carriers operated old fleets, provided mediocre service, and had low levels of reliability.

Those carriers are no longer around. They have been replaced by privately owned, publicly traded operators, providing high levels of efficiency and service.

Latin America today is home to some of the world's most profitable airlines - efficient operators with modern fleets and high utilisation levels, providing punctuality, reliability and the highest service standards."


Gordon Bethune, Continental Airlines

Former Continental Airlines chief executive Gordon Bethune looks back at the evolution of the industry and says the key missing link now is an air traffic control network that could allow the industry to save millions of dollars through increased productivity and meet future traffic needs. He writes:

Gordon Bethune 
"Today's airline industry in the USA is more stable, secure and safe than ever before. Safety throughout the industry is enhanced tremendously by advanced technology in aircraft systems, training and through increased commitment of our air carriers and our government.

No one in the world enjoys a more safe and secure air-transportation system. It is the result of many, many thousands of professionals in every facet of aviation working together to provide an optimal level of safety, comfort and security."


Robert Milton, ACE Aviation

ACE Aviation chairman and former Air Canada chief executive Robert Milton ponders the last 25 years and the reasons the industry continues to struggle for profitability. He writes:

 Robert Milton
"Look back 25 years? I'm not old enough oh wait, I am. Let's see, I'll go back to when I knew this was the industry for me, my first sighting of a 747. I was nine. Whoops, that was 1969, way too long ago. Twenty-five years? Let me get the time-frame right. OK, we're talking the early days of the 747-300. Well, unfortunately, one of the key features of our beloved airline industry (I have trouble referring to it as a business, as it has never demonstrated anything approaching an ability to consistently make decent returns) is that no matter how far back you go, it is generally a pretty discouraging picture. We can conjure up historic flights and routes, beautiful airplanes, and paint schemes, but the business reality is closer to some of the sound bites we've heard ad nauseum: "Since its inception, more money has been lost than made"; "If a far-sighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favour by shooting Orville down"; and so on.


More leader perspectives and anniversary content 

25 year timeline grab (445) 

Source: Airline Business