The recent announcement by Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) of a TT$121M surplus before interest and taxes for the first nine months of 2019 is a vindication of Garvin Medera’s appointment as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CAL.
Medera was appointed the CEO of CAL in October 2107 which prompted speculation by the naysayers that he was unsuitable for the position primarily because he had no prior airline or aviation experience.
Such a perception is a myth as many successful airlines such as EasyJet, Finnair, SAS, COPA and Southwest were all led by CEOs without any prior airline experience.
Through a combination of leadership, business, innovation, technical and interpersonal skills, Medera was able to navigate around turbulence and laid the groundwork for positioning CAL on a strategic flight plan to profitability.
The airline industry is highly competitive and resides in a rapidly ever evolving business and technological environment. Therefore, in order to be profitable, airlines must undergo a continuous metamorphosis in order to achieve and sustain a competitive advantage. Medera understood these airline dynamics.
Medera’s tenure so far has not been without challenges. Some detractors, both internal and external, criticised his recruitment of former Digicel employees to key positions in CAL. A CEO must be able to recruit suitable persons to his team who enjoy his confidence and share his vision for transformation. Since its formation, CAL had a high turnover of CEOs and Boards causing instability and no continuity of a consistent strategic direction. Persons holding key management positions became tired and frustrated. To move the airline forward, a human resource transfusion was required.
Through innovation and technology, Medera and his team have made significant improvements in operations, marketing and customer service resulting in greater efficiencies and enhanced customer service quality.
His introduction of customer centric revenue management, a shift away from traditional revenue management, has strengthened the CAL brand and increased revenues. All airline activities are now supported by effective information systems to facilitate prompt and well informed decision making. New high yield routes and modern fuel efficient aircraft are on CAL’s horizon which will certainly expand its revenue base.
Under Medera’s leadership CAL is now focussed on excellence in customer experience and can soon become a regional success story.