Paul J. Blackney
, president and CEO of Worldspan L.P., announced his plans today to step down as the president and CEO of the Company when the proposed acquisition of Worldspan is completed. Blackney is currently working closely with the buyers on transition plans and post-closing strategic and operating plans to ensure that Worldspan continues to offer the most innovative products and services in the market. Post-closing, Blackney will assume the role of Special Advisor to the Company and serve on the Companyå‘s board of directors. Blackney said the future owners would announce their selection for the new chief executive soon.
On March 4, 2003, Worldspan
announced the signing of an agreement by Travel Transaction Processing Corporation, newly formed by Citigroup Venture Capital Equity Partners (CVC) and Teachers’ Merchant Bank, to purchase Worldspan from its three airline owners.
“I have been privileged to serve on Worldspan’s board since 1999, and it is with equal honor that I assume these important roles in the company’s future. My years at Worldspan have been the most rewarding ones of my career. It has been enlightening and staggeringly productive.”
Blackney stressed that the buyers are focused on ensuring that Worldspan continue to offer and improve upon the highest levels of customer service and support. “One thing has been made very clear by the buyers in their support of Worldspan’s current operations and focus is their belief that Worldspan can build on this base to create an even more exciting future. All of the transition planning has been focused on how Worldspan increases its already industry-leading levels of product innovation, customer service, portfolio of supplier solutions and employee opportunities. The buyers are 100 percent focused on positioning Worldspan for even greater growth.”
Blackney said he would remain Worldspan’s president and chief executive officer until closing. He also said that the transaction is subject to financing, governmental and regulatory approvals, and other customary conditions and that he would remain president and chief executive officer if the transaction did not close.
In a letter to all employees Blackney said: “We will have a very bright, exciting, and successful future under the ownership of CVC and Teachers. Worldspan has a flexible, state-of-the art technology infrastructure, durable partnerships with a very diverse and strong set of customers, a stellar and well-deserved reputation for excellence and innovation. The new owners recognize and will build on these qualities and strengths for many years to come.”
Under Blackney’s leadership, Worldspan has reached unprecedented company and industry achievements. Worldspan’s innovative business strategy propelled it beyond traditional industry boundaries, enabling Worldspan to revolutionize the ways travel is bought and sold. The leader in travel e-commerce since 1999, Worldspan processes more than 50 percent of all online travel agency bookings worldwide. Today, Worldspan’s products and solutions are market leaders or exclusive Worldspan offerings. Worldspan has also grown to become the second largest U.S. provider of technology to travel distributors, with a market share of 29 percent.
“Through the unwavering commitment and effort of our staff, we brought the travel technology market into our own backyard, and in doing so, we became a global market leader,” Blackney added. “It has been highly satisfying to be part of these successes and I am excited about my role in Worldspan’s future.”
Blackney became president and CEO of Worldspan in October 1999 and was appointed to the company’s board the same year. He established strategy for and guides worldwide activities for the company’s three major business lines, including e-Commerce, Travel Distribution, and Travel Supplier Solutions. Blackney has amassed an exceptional career as a travel distribution and advanced technology expert. He has held executive positions with United Airlines and Apollo Travel Services, where he served as president and chief executive officer. Blackney was also instrumental in the formation of the Galileo global alliance. He has twice been honored as “Travel Industry Man of the Year” by Travel Agent magazine.