College of Law > About > Centers & Institutes > International Aviation Law Institute > Conversations Oral History Project > A Conversation With Robert L. Crandall
MESSAGE FROM BRIAN HAVEL, PROFESSOR OF LAW, ASSOCIATE DEAN, AND
DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL AVIATION LAW INSTITUTE AT DE PAUL
UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW
This message is based on Professor Havel's introductory and closing remarks at the interview of Mr. Crandall.
I am pleased to welcome you to this website.
This program is the third event in the Institute’s
special oral history series, "Conversations with Aviation Leaders,” in
which we explore the origins, history, and record of U.S. airline
deregulation with academics, officials, political figures, and industry
leaders who played a significant role in this extraordinary public
Our format today will be three one-hour sessions covering the
emergence and initial experience of airline deregulation n Part 1, the
post-deregulation era and the influence of deregulation on the
restrictive regime governing international air transport in Part 2, and
some overall perspectives and retrospectives in Part 3. At least that’s
how we planned it in theory. But it’s really up to our distinguished
interlocutor and his guest as to how this conversation will unfold.
Our interviewee Robert Lloyd Crandall, known through the aviation
industry as Bob Crandall, is the former president and chairman of
American Airlines. An MBA from the Wharton School, he worked for TWA in
the 1960s, veered off into the retail industry, and returned in 1973 as
senior financial VP for American. A strong critic of deregulation
prior to the passing of the 1978 legislation, he nevertheless led
American to significant success in the reordered marketplace. He became
president of the airline in 1982 and in 1985 he succeeded Albert Casey
as the airline’s chairman and CEO. Among his significant industry
innovations were the first frequent flyer program in the industry and
the use of computer reservations systems.
Bob's candor and outspokenness are legendary, and he will
certainly be asked to comment on some of his long trail of quotable
remarks. Here’s one that the public, or at least the investing public,
may have taken on board: "I've never invested in any airline. I'm an
airline manager. I don’t invest in airlines. And I always said to the
employees of American, 'this is not an appropriate investment. It's a
great place to work and it's a great company that does important work.
But airlines are not an investment." "A lot of people came into the
airline business after deregulation," he has noted, adding that "most of
them promptly exited, minus their money."
Bob was the 1997 recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award
honoring Americans who have achieved distinction despite challenging
life circumstances, and in 2001 he received the Tony Jannus Award for
outstanding leadership in the commercial aviation industry. The 2009
winner, incidentally, is Rep. James Oberstar, chairman of the House
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Bob retired from American in 1998 and continues to be active in a
wide range of business matters, some of which are aviation-related.
The interlocutor, former U.S. Ambassador J.D. Bindenagel, is someone
Mr. Crandall encountered in those heady days in the early 1990s when the
giant transatlantic code-sharing alliances were first starting to
emerge. J.D.’s long and distinguished tenure at the U.S. State
Department, culminating in his appointment as U.S. Ambassador and
Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues in 2002, included periods when he
became involved in bilateral negotiations with Germany on open skies
issues and the use of code-sharing as an alliance-bonding device.
J.D. retains a healthy interest in aviation issues, as we
realized when we were preparing with him for this interview, but his
career, with sojourns in Washington, in Europe, and in Asia, has ranged
broadly over many diplomatic questions concerning issues as diverse as
World War II property restitution issues, the worldwide ban on sales of
so-called conflict diamonds, the reunification of Germany, and the
deployment of U.S. Pershing missiles in Europe. J.D., who holds an
M.P.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the
recipient of numerous U.S. and foreign awards of merit and distinction
including the State Department’s Distinguished Service Award in 2001.
We are very proud and honored at DePaul University to have J.D.
serving now as our vice president for Community, Government, and
International Affairs where he is responsible for deepening the
connections between our Chicago and overseas campuses and communities.
J.D. is also a founding board member of the International Aviation Law
Institute and we are delighted that he agreed, without a moment’s
hesitation, to bridge the years since he last worked with Bob Crandall
and to appear today as Bob’s interlocutor.