Ben Baldanza, the very entertaining CEO of Spirit Airlines, has been replaced. Scott Mayerowitz has the story this morning:
Following the tremendous growth and success of Spirit over the last 10 years, the board and I have concluded that this is the right time to implement an orderly succession plan,” Baldanza said in a printed statement released by the Miramar, Florida airline.
Robert L. Fornaro, who led discount carrier AirTran before its sale to Southwest Airlines, will take over as CEO immediately.
I can’t say this was expected, especially given the fact that Spirit has thrived since Baldanza took over. That being said, as the article notes, the stock price has lagged as of late. Still, the airline is very profitable (and not as horrible as people think given my recent flight on Spirit).
CEOs getting a quick hook isn’t really a trend in the airline industry (United’s Jeff Smisek excluded). It makes me wonder if there’s more to the story here.
Anyway, you have to love a CEO that embraces how much some of his customers hate him:
Baldanza at times reveled in the animosity that he helped to generate. Taped to the side of a corner bookshelf in his office was an expletive laden email from one disgruntled traveler that, in part, read: “I just want to let you know that your company sucks and your policy will run it into the ground.”
There aren’t enough entertaining personalities in the travel industry. Here’s hoping Baldanza finds his way back in somewhere and Spirit doesn’t decide to develop some reverence in their ad campaigns.