American Airlines hires tech chief to succeed longtime CIO

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Dive Brief:

  • Ganesh Jayaram will take over technology strategy at American Airlines, succeeding CIO Maya Leibman. Jayaram will become the airline’s chief digital and information officer (CDIO) on Sept. 1, the company announced in a Monday press release.
  • Jayaram ascended to CIO at Deere & Co. on May 31 after six years as the company’s VP of IT, during which he helped the manufacturer onboard hybrid cloud infrastructure and unveiled a fully autonomous tractor prototype.
  • Maya Leibman announced she would be stepping down as CIO in June, pending the completion of a search for her successor. During her 12-year tenure as CIO, Leibman pushed modernization efforts, including the company’s transition to cloud and adoption of automation.

Dive Insight:

Jayaram’s move to American comes at a challenging time for the airline industry.

Pilot shortages and other staffing woes, supply chain disruptions, fuel cost spikes and plain old bad weather plagued US carriers through the first half of the year, leading to delays in one in five flights through May.

That’s the highest rate of delays in that five-month period since 2014, according to the latest Department of Transportation data.

Despite these problems and a chaotic summer for air travel, American, the largest domestic air carrier by volume, has shown healthy signs of recovery from pandemic setbacks. The company posted a record Q2 revenue of $ 13.4 billion in its July earnings report, the biggest single quarter revenue in the company’s history.

Leibman credited ongoing investments in tech and modernization for the bounceback during a July earnings call. As part of those investments, American announced a partnership with Microsoft to make Azure its preferred cloud platform in May, with the goal of improving customer experience and airline operation through the application of advanced analytics.

American’s CEO Robert Isom trumpeted Jayaram’s experience driving innovation in a complex global organization and his focus on operational reliability in the press release.

Leibman, who has been with American since 1994, will not be leaving the company. While she has said she will relocate to the United Kingdom, she is set to transition to an advisory role with the airline.

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