Air Canada Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, R. Lamar Durrett, has elected to retire August 31, 1999 after three years at the helm of Air Canada and 32 years of service in the industry. He will be succeeded by Robert A. Milton as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Milton was formerly President and Chief Operating Officer. Durrett and Milton will work together over the next few weeks to ensure an orderly transition.
In making the announcement, John Fraser, Chairman of Air Canada, paid tribute, on behalf of the Board, to Durrett`s accomplishments during his seven year career with Air Canada, including leading the company to its best ever profit of $427M in 1997 and the industry recognition received last year as Best Airline in North America and Best Passenger Service Airline in the World.
“I leave Air Canada with a strong team in place and a customer acceptance that is second to none,” said Durrett. “There are many challenges ahead, particularly in terms of satisfying our shareholders, and I believe the time is right for new ideas and new leadership to pursue these goals.
“Robert Milton is a clear star on our horizon, and he is ready and more than able to drive this company forward.”
Milton`s appointment as CEO was described by Fraser as the right choice to lead Air Canada profitably into the next century.
“We clearly need to focus on our financial goals, particularly in improving our shareholder value, using the success and standards of our technical excellence and customer service as our bedrock,” said Fraser.
Milton`s priorities will be to elevate Air Canada to North America industry level operating margins; establish new, collaborative relationships with the company`s unions; and develop leading-edge customer service initiatives that fully exploit high-technology advances.