Cendant has announced that leading travel industry executive and former CEO of Continental, Gordon Bethune, has been named chairman of the company’s travel distribution services (TDS) division. Bethune will continue as non-executive chairman at TDS when the Company completes the spin-off of its travel distribution business to Cendant shareholders early in the fourth quarter of this year.
“Gordon Bethune has led a remarkable career in the travel industry and I am very pleased that he has elected to bring his wealth of talent and experience to Cendant’s Travel Distribution businesses,” Cendant’s Chairman and CEO, Henry R. Silverman said.
“He is a strong, engaging leader whose turnaround of Continental was marked by his strategic mindset, sharp intellect and exceptional ability to attract and develop a world-class management team. Hence, it should come as no surprise that his first critical task near-term will be to help me identify and recruit a chief executive for TDS from the list of outstanding finalists that we have assembled.”
Cendant’s President and Chief Financial Officer, Ronald L. Nelson, will continue serving as CEO and president of TDS on an interim basis.
“Cendant has assembled a unique and enviable portfolio of travel distribution businesses that are well-positioned for considerable growth in domestic and especially international markets,” Mr. Bethune said.
“I am encouraged that in the months and years ahead, the further vertical integration of these businesses will continue to prove the viability of the investment thesis. I am honored and privileged to serve as chairman and to help the management team and their 8,000 associates around the world shape the future of this very promising enterprise.”
Bethune’s career in the travel industry spans nearly three decades. He is credited with transforming Continental Airlines from a $600 million annual loss in 1994 to one of the best performing major airlines.
During his tenure at Continental, he was a strong proponent of driving profitability while safeguarding brand equity by responding to consumer needs and effectively building customer loyalty.
Between 1979 and 1988, Mr. Bethune held executive positions at several other major airlines including Braniff, Western and Piedmont and also served as a vice president and general manager at Boeing Corporation. Most recently, Mr. Bethune founded GB1 Partners, a privately held consulting firm to the travel industry.
During his illustrious career, Mr. Bethune has been recognized for his out-of-the-box thinking and numerous achievements in the areas of strategic insight, operational excellence, customer service, and management leadership.
He has appeared on BusinessWeek’s list of the top 25 global managers and was heralded by Business Travel News as being among the 25 most influential executives in the travel industry. In 1999, he authored a book with Scott Hurler entitled, From Worst to First: Behind the Scenes of Continental’s Remarkable Comeback.
Bethune received a Bachelor of Science degree from Abilene Christian University. He served for 20 years as an officer in the United States Navy. Mr. Bethune is currently a director on the boards of Sprint Nextel Corporation, Prudential Financial Inc., Honeywell International Inc., and Willis Group Holdings.