"This job is the central part of an airline,"
While profitability drives most decisions,
strategy and customer service must be considered as well.
Jehn, who held a similar job at Air New Zealand for six years,
pores through reams of data and revenue forecasts. He sorts
through customer feedback, weighs pilots' recommendations
about airports and listens to the viewpoints of his airline
"I get input from every imaginable angle,"
Jehn says. "Often the viewpoints are completely opposed
— everything is a trade-off."
While Jehn could play an important role in
the carrier's successful emergence from bankruptcy, it won't
be easy. In his words, the industry is "still experiencing
a lot of pain" as it copes with record fuel prices and
low-cost competition and tries to adapt to post-9/11 changes,
including scheduling delays and longer connection times.
But bankruptcy, Jehn says, has allowed United
to become a leaner airline by reducing its fleet and reconsidering
routes. Recently the carrier added flights to seven warm-weather
destinations throughout Mexico and the Caribbean.
"One of the things we've done is make a
concerted effort to change our destinational breadth,"
Jehn says. "It's a key way of serving customers better
— making sure they can get where they want at all times.
And we're very conscious of providing schedules that are business
Take that all to heart next time your flight to Kalamazoo
hits the chopping block.