Virgin America Picks Diana Walke as VP of Planning and Sales

Last Updated Mar 28, 2008 1:29 PM EDT

That didn't take very long. A short couple of weeks after Brian Clark left Virgin America, Diana Walke has been tapped to fill his shoes as VP of Planning and Sales. Diana WalkeIs this a good thing?

Well, Diana has a long resume filled with her time spent in the airline industry. Actually, it should be no surprise that her experience seems to be entirely at American Airlines. She started at the airline as a pricing/yield management analyst and worked her way up to be Director for Capacity Planning - Network Development. Why isn't it a surprise? Well, new CEO David Cush came from American as well. I assume he's bringing in his friends and favorites to fill out his roster.

Cush said in the release that "Diana brings an incredible wealth of experience in sales and distribution, revenue management, marketing and network planning . . . ." Yes, but that's not necessarily a good thing. American is a hub-and-spoke legacy carrier. Virgin America is supposed to be a next generation, point-to-point, completely different kind of airline. In some areas, like maintenance and operations, you probably do want someone with a lot of experience, but I'm not so sure about that on the commercial side.

Capacity planning for a hub airline is very different from what Virgin America is trying to do. Does the mindset of someone who has spent her professional life at a network carrier lend itself well to a new startup trying to do something completely different? On the surface, I'd say that's not the type of person you want in that role, but that doesn't mean she isn't up to the job. Hopefully she'll prove me wrong.

(Image courtesy Virgin America)