- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 7, 2002

Former Continental Airlines executive David N. Siegel was named yesterday as US Airways' new president and chief executive officer.
Mr. Siegel, 40, is currently the chairman and CEO of Avis Rent A Car System Inc., a subsidiary of New York-based Cendant Corp. Mr. Siegel, who had only joined Avis in September, previously served as president of Continental Express.
Mr. Siegel "brings a broad understanding of the business, a proven track record of accomplishment, and, importantly, exceptional skills in working with people," said US Airways Chairman Stephen Wolf, who had been filling those additional positions since the November resignation of Rakesh Gangwal. Mr. Siegel was also named to the company's board.
The challenges Mr. Siegel faces are daunting.
Arlington-based US Airways has especially hard hit by the downturn in travel following the September 11 attacks and the lengthy shutdown of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. The company lost $2 billion last year, including $1 billion in the fourth quarter.
Federal regulators rejected last year a proposed merger with UAL Corp., the parent company of United. Its core East Coast operations have struggled with competition from low-cost carriers like Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue.
"While this is a particularly challenging time for the airline industry, I'm delighted to return to commercial aviation, where I spent much of my career," said Mr. Siegel. "I have long viewed US Airways as an airline with a strong franchise and tremendous potential."
US Airways said Mr. Siegel has proven ability to turn the carrier around. Mr. Siegel played "an instrumental role" in Continental's turnaround and as president of the Continental Express from 1995-1999, Mr. Siegel improved the unit's profit by $250 million annually, US Airways said.
The airline is currently negotiating with pilots to try to substantially increase its use of cheaper regional jets. It is also looking to create a partnership with another airline that would allow for a broader network of routes and destinations.
Separately, Avis said Robert Salerno, who has been president and chief operating officer since 1996, will continue in that role during the search for a successor.
"While David's time at Avis has been short, we can certainly understand his decision to accept this leadership position at US Airways and return to the airline industry," said John Chidsey, who heads Cendant's Vehicle Services Division.
Shares of US Airways jumped 33 cents, or 5.4 percent, to close at $6.48 in trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, where Cendant shares rose 33 cents to close at $18.79.

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