Henry Joyner, who oversaw planning at American Airlines as a senior vice president, announced his retirement today. He'll be replaced by Virasb Vahidi, a former American executive who left the airline in 2002 to work for AT&T.
Joyner has been an integral part of American's operations for three decades. He was involved in the creation of the AAdvantage frequent flier program and has a hand in nearly every piece of American's ongoing strategy, including scheduling, fleet operations, revenue management, real estate and airline alliances.
American has his efforts to thank for its first service to China, a nonstop flight from O'Hare to Shanghai that began in 2006. I covered the inaugural flight for that route, and remember how Henry astonished a roomful of Chinese officials at an event in Shanghai by giving a portion of his speech in fluent Mandarin.
He's also been a driving force behind the anti-trust alliance with British Airways currently being considered by the DOT. That proposal entered a new phase today, with the opening of a comment period and the beginning of a six-month timeframe for regulators to make their decision.
His retirement is effective June 1.