The president of Delta subsidiary Comair resigned yesterday, weeks after the failure of an overloaded computer system stranded hundreds of customers on Christmas. An internal Delta memo...
CINCINNATI — The president of Delta subsidiary Comair resigned yesterday, weeks after the failure of an overloaded computer system stranded hundreds of customers on Christmas.
An internal Delta memo said Randy Rademacher had stepped down to pursue other unspecified opportunities. Asked whether Rademacher was pressured to leave, Comair spokesman Nick Miller said: “It was his personal decision. We don’t want to speculate on his reasons.”
A telephone message seeking comment from Rademacher was not immediately returned yesterday.
Rademacher was replaced by Fred Buttrell, head of the Delta Connection group, which works with Delta’s regional carriers.
Comair, based at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, is owned by Delta.
“It’s pretty obvious what happened over the holiday was very serious,” said Doug Abbey, a partner of The Velocity Group, an aviation-consulting firm in Washington, D.C. “That’s what this is all about.”
Comair, which operates in 119 cities, carries about 30,000 passengers daily, mostly east of the Mississippi River, and to Canada and the Bahamas.
Its Christmas meltdown came the same weekend that financially plagued US Airways Group experienced a similar fiasco because of labor issues and bad weather.
Unlike US Airways and Delta, which has come close to filing for bankruptcy, Comair’s balance sheet has received little attention. Delta doesn’t reveal how much profit Comair brings to the Delta system.
But former Delta CEO Leo Mullin said several years ago that collective revenue from Comair and other Delta Connection carriers was in the billions of dollars annually.
Rademacher had been Comair’s president for five years and joined the airline in 1985. His tenure included guiding Comair through a three-month strike by its pilots that won them pay increases in a new contract.
In a letter yesterday, Buttrell, 42, told Comair’s 6,000 employees that the airline must focus on improving the safety and reliability of its operations and customer service, along with a strategic plan to build its strength as a regional carrier.
“We will need every bit of your spirit and passion to take on the hard work necessary to put Comair back in the leadership position that built the company over the years,” Buttrell wrote.
As head of Delta’s group of feeder carriers, Buttrell has assigned some of Delta’s supplemental flight business to operations other than Comair, including Chautauqua, Abbey said. Buttrell likely will focus on trying to control Comair’s labor costs, Abbey said.
“This is a subtle message to Comair and the pilots that they need to be mindful of their costs,” he said.