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AIRLINE INDUSTRY Comair president resigns



Published: Tue, January 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A Delta executive said the Comair chief is pursuing other opportunities.

CINCINNATI (AP) -- The president of Delta subsidiary Comair Inc. resigned Monday, weeks after the failure of an overloaded computer system shut down the carrier's flights nationwide on Christmas.

Randy Rademacher made a personal decision to leave, Comair spokesman Nick Miller said. "I don't want to speculate on the reason for the decision," he said.

An internal memo from a Delta executive says Rademacher stepped down to pursue other unspecified opportunities, Miller said. The memo's contents were reported Monday by The Cincinnati Enquirer.

Delta Air Lines Inc., which owns the carrier based at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, appointed Fred Buttrell as Comair president. He is the head of the Delta Connection group of carriers that coordinate their schedules with Delta.

Comair's approximately 1,100 flights were canceled on Christmas, stranding hundreds of passengers who couldn't arrange other flights. The company blamed numerous passenger scheduling changes because of an ice storm for overloading the computer system.

"It's pretty obvious what happened over the holiday was very serious," said Doug Abbey, a partner of The Velocity Group, an aviation consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. "I think it's fair corporate governance to have that accountability ... That's what this is all about."

Objectives

Buttrell, 42, told Comair's 6,000 employees in a letter Monday that Comair must focus on improving the safety and reliability of its operations and customer service, along with a strategic plan to build its strength as a regional carrier.

"We will need every bit of your spirit and passion to take on the hard work necessary to put Comair back in the leadership position that built the company over the years," Buttrell wrote.

Rademacher, 48, had been Comair's president for five years and joined the airline in 1985. His tenure included guiding Comair through a three-month strike by its pilots that won them pay increases in a new contract.

Comair, which operates in 119 cities, carries about 30,000 passengers daily in the United States, mostly east of the Mississippi River, and to Canada and the Bahamas.

As head of Delta's group of feeder carriers, Buttrell has assigned some of Delta's supplemental flight business to operations other than Comair, including Chautauqua, Abbey said. Buttrell likely will focus on trying to control Comair's labor costs, Abbey said.

"This is a subtle message to Comair and the pilots that they need to be mindful of their costs," Abbey said.




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