David Banmiller

David Banmiller, president and CEO of Aloha Airlines, spoke to the media Thursday about the company's bankruptcy filing.

Shaking things up at
bankrupt Aloha Air

The isle carrier’s new president
comes with a can-do reputation

When new executives take over a company, they often choose to quietly watch before making waves.

And then there's David A. Banmiller, the new president and chief executive of Aloha Airlines, who will lead the struggling carrier through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy organization it filed Thursday.

The privately held company, which had a $1.3 million profit in 2002 after four straight years of losses, began its recent string of quarterly losses with a $3.2 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2003. The airline lost another $6 million in the third quarter of this year.

Banmiller has been on a cost-cutting mission since joining the company in mid-November.

"He's known as a mover and a shaker by the whole industry," said Thom Nulty, Aloha's new senior vice president of marketing and sales. "He doesn't let moss grow on any rocks."

Nulty, former president of Navigant International Inc., who came out of retirement to join Aloha in December, first crossed paths with Banmiller 20 years ago at Air Cal.

Banmiller, who started as senior vice president of marketing for Air Cal, went on to become the company's president.

"He was constantly in the L.A. Times then and was known for his ability to stir things up in a positive way," Nulty said.

Banmiller has more than 30 years of experience in air travel and has held senior airline industry positions in the United States, Europe, South America, Mexico and the Far East. He most recently served as Air Jamaica's executive vice president and chief operating officer.

He also has served as president and CEO for Sun Country Airlines, Pan American World Airways, Sun Jet and as vice president of American Airlines' international division.

At his former companies, Banmiller earned a reputation as the guy who can get quick concessions from employees and take a carrier through bankruptcy, said Aloha pilot John Riddel.

"Certainly the board considered (Banmiller's) background with bankruptcies when they hired him," Nulty said. "However, they also considered his experience and his track record of being able to attract good people and get high visibility."

Banmiller took Aloha's reins at a turbulent time in the airline industry, when few carriers are making money and many are restructuring, including Hawaiian Airlines.

"Today our industry is in chaos. Every legacy carrier is fighting to survive in the midst of attempts to compete against low-cost carriers and grab market share," Banmiller said in a December memo to employees.

With less than one month's time on the job, Banmiller reduced the company's top management by 36 percent, firing some employees and freezing open management positions.

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