Virgin America Inc., a new U.S- based airline start-up company, is taking on Donald J. Carty as the company’s chairman. Carty is the former chairman and CEO of AMR Corp.The appointment was made by VAI Partners LLC, an investment group funded by U.S. investment firms Black Canyon Capital and Cyrus Capital Partners and the company’s controlling shareholder.
The parent company of American Airlines, Inc. also will become an investor in VAI Partners, which owns 75 percent of the equity of the airline.
“Don Carty shares our confidence in Virgin America’s founding team and their ability to develop a modern, self-sustaining new generation airline,” said Mark Lanigan, 45, a managing director of U.S.-based Black Canyon Capital.
Carty will join Lanigan on the board and assume his role as chairman.
“I am very enthusiastic about being part of this exciting airline project. The quality of the business plan, the credentials of the management team, the commitment of its investors plus the unique value of the Virgin brand create a very compelling business opportunity,” said Carty, 59.
“The airline industry in the United States is in need of profound restructuring and rebuilding of consumer confidence, and I am convinced that Virgin America will be a critical factor in its evolution.”
“We look forward to benefiting from Don’s vast experience as we build an innovative airline based on safe and efficient operations, low costs, great customer service, and a unique level of engagement with our employees,” added Fred Reid, 55, CEO—Virgin America.
“I’ve known Don for many years, and he knows the airline business. We feel fortunate to have someone with his expertise as our chairman.”
Carty was chairman and CEO of AMR Corp., from 1998 to April 2003.
From 1995 to 1998, he was president of American Airlines. Carty held other executive level positions with AMR, American Airlines or their subsidiaries from 1978 to 1985 and from 1987 to 1995.
Carty is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and of the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.
He joined Air Canada after graduate school and then had a seven-year run at American, from 1978 to 1985, before becoming president and CEO of Canadian Pacific Airlines.
Carty has been a member of the board of directors of Hawaiian Airlines since July 2004 and also serves as chairman of Porter Airlines, Inc. in Canada. Carty also is a director of Dell, Inc., Sears Holding Corp., Placer Dome, Inc., CHC Helicopter Corp. and Solution Inc. LTD, as well as chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.