It looks as if the wheels are certainly turning in the effort to find the next president of the U.S. Air Transport Association. Although it is unclear as to the timing, there is now no doubt that a search committee has been talking to candidates.
As I reported last week, current ATA president James May is expected to leave the group when his current term expires early next year. So the ATA board is already trying to identify a successor for May (this version of the story went up on our free site on Monday).
While ATA has made it clear it does not comment on speculation, it’s now reasonably well known that a search is underway. Washington being Washington, word was always going to get out. Something I would like to know is when May’s successor would start – are they trying to line up someone far in advance, or are they considering a transition period with an overlap? I’m not sure exactly when May’s contract is up, as that is apparently confidential.
I don’t know how many people the ATA board has talked to, although it sounds as if they haven’t made a decision yet. It will be interesting to see what names pop up this time around.
It’s pretty clear that one of the candidates is Lisa Rickard, who is an executive VP at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This would not be as much of a stretch as you might think – the Chamber has often worked with ATA, and ATA members UPS, Fedex Express and US Airways are all represented on the Chamber’s board. Carol Hallett – May’s predecessor at ATA – serves as a counselor to the Chamber, and is one of its “issue experts” on transportation.
An important caveat is that nothing has been made official yet, and May has made no announcements about his plans. But if he does leave as expected, he will have had a successful – and eventful – eight-year run at ATA. During his watch, the industry has been through some of its darkest days, and has any number of major policy challenges to confront. There have been wins and losses – but that’s true of any major lobby group. I think overall May has run a pretty effective organization, and forging consensus among his members is no easy feat. You can also judge leaders by the people they employ, and May has some top-class professionals in his senior team.