United is not going quietly into the weekend; the carrier shared news internally this afternoon of new executive appointments – and creation of new roles – as well as formation of a new subsidiary.
Perhaps most significant is the changes for United Express handling. That operation has been a challenge for the company and to try to bring some stability to it United has hired Brad Rich, formerly President of SkyWest, to be SVP United Express. Furthermore, a new ground handling services group will be established to provide services to United and other carriers. This effort will be run by Lynda Coffman who now assumes the title of VP Ground Services. Coffman previously served in the role of VP Food Services for the airline.
Building its own ground services groups lets United essentially “outsource” to itself in some stations while also allowing it to bid to work for other airlines. While it could also bid those same jobs today the new operation will likely allow it to do so at a lower pay-scale. Delta Ground Services provides a similar operation for that carrier while American handles similar functions via its Eagle Ground Handling, part of its Envoy (f/k/a American Eagle) subsidiary.
The new SVP-Customers has been named as Sandra Pineau-Boddison. Pineau-Boddison previously worked as SVP-United Express. This role covers Customer Experience, Contact Centers and Food services. Her background running both contact centers and food services previously should make this a smooth transition. That said, the position appears to be a new one in the company so making that work smoothly may be easier said than done.
The company also named a Vice President – Operations Engagement and Leadership, a role which I do not believe existed prior to this announcement. Filling to job will be Donna Towle, formerly VP-Employee Relations.
Definitely some shake-up going on at Willis Tower. How the changes trickle down to customer impact remains to be seen, of course. Pushing the ground handling out of the regular employee realm means lower costs and potentially other changes to the way operations are handled. Historically such efforts have been challenging initially, though in many cases they do get better over time as the ground services groups learn the details of the companies they serve. Consolidating customer experience into a SVP role potentially has an upside for a better and more consistent experience, or it could just be shuffling things around. I still think the most significant potential for change comes with Brad Rich and the United Express operation. It definitely needs some work both for consistency and reliability.
United has confirmed the new roles and subsidiary creation.
Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.