The Airline Guys
Robert Crandall and Frank Lorenzo.
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No CEOs were as competitive, controversial, or influential in shaping the post-deregulation airline business as Robert Crandall and Frank Lorenzo. The two left giant footprints on the U.S. aviation industry in vastly different ways. Crandall, the longtime leader of Fort Worth-based American Airlines, was the cunning, combative strategist who came up with innovations like Super Saver fares and frequent-flier miles, modernized computer reservation systems, and refined hub airports. Lorenzo was the bold takeover artist with the take-no-prisoners style who built Houston-based Texas Air Corporation into the country’s largest airline holding company; he later bought Continental Airlines, brought it out of Chapter 11, and pioneered low-cost, full-service flights. Crandall, 65, retired from American in 1998 and now splits his time between a vacation house in Gloucester, Massachusetts, homes in Florida and Dallas, and a beloved sailboat; he sits on the boards of several companies, including Halliburton. Lorenzo, 61, still has ties to aviation through Savoy Capital, a closely held Houston investment firm that he founded and chairs. Savoy invests in specialty food companies and does aviation consulting in the U.S. and abroad, especially in Spain and Latin America.