American Airlines has a deep bench, so it will be fine. But this is a big get for United, which needed to bolster its senior management ranks. United has not had as much talent in its ranks as American.
For at least the third time in the past six months, United Airlines has hired a senior American Airlines executive for its commercial team.
This time the hire is Andrew Nocella, who had been American’s senior vice president for network planning, alliances & sales, and was, at one time, the company’s chief marketing officer. At United, he’ll join airline President Scott Kirby and Vice President for International Planning Patrick Quayle, both of whom recently joined United from American.
United representatives were not immediately available to discuss Nocella’s role. But Nocella is considered adept at network planning, or deciding what routes an airline should fly with each aircraft type. In August, United hired another executive, former consultant Julia Haywood, to run the airline’s network, but she left in January to return to the Boston Consulting Group.
In public comments since he joined United, Kirby has talked about strengthening United’s domestic route network. He is especially interested in building United’s Chicago hub to make it more formidable against competition from American.
No American executive has a non-compete agreement, including CEO Doug Parker, so it is easy for other companies to hire its workers. In a brief telephone interview, American spokesman Matt Miller said the airline has no plans to change its approach.
“Philosophically, it is something that we haven’t done, and we have no plans to do so,” Miller said.
In a note to employees announcing Nocella’s departure, American President Robert Isom said the company will miss him, but looks forward to competing against him. Isom became American’s president in August after Kirby left for United.
“Andrew has been a valuable member of our team for more than 20 years and we owe him a debt of gratitude for shaping the American Airlines network that we fly today,” Isom said. “On a personal level, I have worked closely with Andrew for the last 10 years. He has been a key advisor and a visionary planner – for our network, fleet and alliances.”
Isom said the company does not plan to immediately replace Nocella.
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Photo Credit: A United Airlines 787 on the ground. United is rebuilding its commericial team, and just hired Andrew Nocella, an American Airlines executive. United Airlines