Troubled US Airways names chief of operations

Robert Isom, 43, takes over from the carrier's president. Isom faces a difficult task in improving airline service.

Posted: September 07, 2007

US Airways, struggling to provide better service at its Philadelphia hub and elsewhere, said yesterday that it had appointed a 43-year-old airline veteran to oversee baggage services and other operations, a key job held since last fall by its president.

US Airways Group Inc., based in Tempe, Ariz., said Robert Isom, a former vice president for ground operations and airport customer service at Northwest Airlines Corp., would take the new post of executive vice president and chief operating officer. Most recently, Isom was chief restructuring officer for GMAC L.L.C. He also is a former vice president, international, for Northwest.

Isom would assume duties that had been performed by president Scott Kirby, 40.

Kirby took on the job of chief operating officer late last year after the resignation of Al Crellin, the only senior manager who had worked for the airline before it merged in 2005 with America West Airlines. Crellin was in charge of operations during the service meltdown over Christmas 2004 at Philadelphia International Airport, when the airline lost more than 70,000 pieces of checked luggage.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late yesterday, Isom reported that he had been given 35,000 shares of US Airways stock and rights to acquire an additional 70,000 shares at $31.14 apiece.

Isom has a difficult job in front of him, particularly in trying to repair US Airways' reputation at Philadelphia. Customers continue to complain about flight delays, the shabby condition of some airport facilities, slow baggage delivery, lost luggage, and thefts from checked bags.

This summer, the company fired more than 50 baggage handlers for alleged fraud in seeking more overtime pay than they worked.

In July, US Airways had the worst record among major carriers for baggage handling, with 10 out of every 1,000 passengers filing claims for lost or damaged bags, according to U.S. Department of Transportation. For the first seven months of 2007, the airline has had more consumer complaints filed against it with the Transportation Department than any other airline.

Simultaneous to Isom's appointment, US Airways said Anthony V. Mulé, its most experienced customer-service manager, would retire as senior vice president, customer service. Mulé worked for Pan American World Airways, American Airlines, America West Airlines, and US Airways for more than 35 years.


Contact staff writer Tom Belden at 215-854-2454 or tbelden@phillynews.com.

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