Cayman Airways CEO quits

Patrick Strasburger has resigned as CEO of Cayman Airways and will step down in September.

Mr. Strasburger, who took up the position as CEO in March 2007, said he was leaving the company for family reason.

He told the Caymanian Compass: ‘my family is more important right now.’

Upon his departure from Cayman Airways, he will move to Florida with his two children.

Chairperson of the Cayman Airways Board, Angelyn Hernandez, said in a statement released Friday afternoon: ‘Patrick has brought to CAL a wealth of knowledge and experience which has greatly assisted us for almost two years in our turnaround plan and the progress we have made.

‘I have spoken to Patrick and he has struggled with this decision as he has grown to love this company and is excited about what has been achieved and where we are headed. However, for personal reasons he must relocate to Florida with his children and I respect his decision.’

Minster of Tourism Charles Clifford also said he had discussed the resignation with Mr. Strasburger.

‘I fully understand the personal reasons for his decision and I wish him the very best as he leaves the helm of our National Flag Carrier,’ he said. ‘Patrick has effectively led the implementation of CAL’s turn-around plan and I take this opportunity to thank him sincerely for his leadership. I wish him and his family the very best in the future.’

The statement by CAL said the airline’s board was ‘considering the best way forward and will be taking steps to fill this position in due course.’

One name that has been circulated as a possible replacement for Mr. Strasburger is Captain Peter Schmid, a 30-year veteran of the company.

But Mr. Schmid said speculation over him becoming CEO was ‘pure conjecture’ and said he had received no communication from Cayman Airways on the subject.

Asked if it was a role he would consider, he said: ‘I want never to say never, but I have just come out of a senior management position at Cayman Airways in executive management and have returned to line flying full time. It is quite a pleasure to have a little bit more free time.’

Mr Schmid, a pilot with Cayman Airways for three decades, had also served as the airline’s director of safety and security.

Mr. Clifford also denied the report Mr. Schmid would take over the helm of Cayman Airways.

‘The Board will shortly commence the search for Mr. Strasburger’s successor, so I’m not sure where that came from,’ he said. ‘But the process has not even commenced yet.’

This is the second high-profile resignation at CAL this year. The airline’s Vice President of Commercial John Wrightington stepped down in May this year after a year in the position, also citing family reasons.

Mr. Strasburger was tasked with carrying out major cost-cutting exercises within the company and generating more revenue that would lead to fewer government subsidies.

Prior to his hiring, the airline carried out an efficiency audit and Lufthansa Consulting prepared a 1,011-page report that recommended 49 action plans and 168 projects to help the airline turn around from its historical loss-making operations.

The airline, in this year’s government budget, is expected to make a project net loss in this financial year of $2.7 million.

Under Mr. Strasburger’s leadership, the airline launched direct flights to New York last year.

He had previously held senior positions at Spirit and Continental airlines.

When he took up the post of CEO 16 months ago, he replaced Caymanian Mike Adam, who retired in December 2006 after more than 20 years at the airline, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

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