Jim spearheaded ExpressJet's rise as an independent carrier and the creation of the separate brand name which was shut down last year. Though many criticized his efforts in that respect, I was always a big fan of the idea, and I give him a ton of credit for giving it a shot. I still think that we'll see it work one day in another form.
Jim was also the inventor of a major breakthrough in the world of alcohol - the one dollar beer onboard. Ok, maybe that wasn't actually the best plan, but as a passenger, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It has been an incredibly tumultuous ride for Jim and the ExpressJet team. There have been takeover attempts, several efforts to gain new partners, and the creation of the charter group. I couldn't blame Jim for walking away if he wanted. But he's not walking away. He's walking into another hornet's nest at American.
The day after he retires from ExpressJet, he will become the SVP of Maintenance & Engineering for American. Is it a bad sign that he's willing to quit running an airline and take a lesser position elsewhere? Not necessarily, though it does make you wonder. It's possible he just wanted something a little more focused than the CEO role. Besides, American is a much larger and more complex company.
He will have to deal with the closure of the Kansas City maintenance base along with the usual labor problems. Good luck, Jim. I don't think this one is going to be any easier.