Bill Flynn to retire as Atlas Air Worldwide CEO

By Damian Brett

Bill Flynn, Atlas Air president and chief executive

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings has announced that President and Chief Executive Officer William Flynn will retire from the company on January 1, after a 13-year tenure, and become Chairman of the Board on that date.

The board has appointed John Dietrich, current Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, as Flynn’s successor. Dietrich will become President and Chief Operating Officer effective immediately, and he will retain the role as President when he assumes the role of Chief Executive Officer on January 1, 2020. 

Additionally, Robert Agnew, current Chairman of the Board, will become the Board’s Lead Independent Director, effective January 1, 2020.

The company said that the transitions and appointments are the “culmination of a comprehensive succession process led by the board to ensure strong leadership continuity as the company continues to advance its strategic growth agenda”.

“One of our key responsibilities as a board is the implementation of a leadership transition plan to ensure the company’s continued success in the future,” said Agnew. “Given John’s depth of experience and proven track record of performance, we are confident that he is uniquely suited to take on the Chief Executive Officer role and lead Atlas into its next growth phase.

“On behalf of the board, I want to thank Bill for his extraordinary leadership. He has built a company that is more dynamic, more profitable, and better-positioned to deliver continued success. Under his leadership, we have grown our fleet, diversified our service offerings, broadened our customer base, and developed a world-class team of talented, customer-focused employees. Bill is well-prepared to have a significant impact as Chairman of the Board.”  

Atlas said that significant achievements made during Flynn’s tenure include the transformation of Polar Air Cargo with the DHL joint venture; investment in the 747-8F platform; acquisition of Southern Air, which added 777 and 737 operating capabilities; growth in relationships with express and e-commerce customers; expansions with long-term customers; and entry into passenger charter flying.

Additionally, the company launched and expanded its dry-leasing subsidiary, Titan.

“It has been a great privilege to lead the company through this period of tremendous growth, and strengthen our position as a leader in global aviation outsourcing,” said Flynn. “I am proud of our dedicated and experienced employees, and the business we have built as a team.

“For over two decades, John has had an unparalleled commitment to this company and our employees. He also has played a key role in driving our success. He has the visionary leadership and solid expertise needed to usher in a new era of growth. I look forward to working with John, my fellow board members, and the Senior Leadership Team as we continue executing our strategic growth agenda to create long-term value for our customers, shareholders and employees.” 

Dietrich has over 30 years of experience in the aviation and air cargo industries, including more than 20 with Atlas Air Worldwide. He has served in his current COO role since 2006.

Dietrich joined the company in 1999 as Associate General Counsel and was promoted to Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary in 2004, which included responsibility for human resources and corporate communications. Prior to joining Atlas Air Worldwide, Dietrich worked for United Airlines for 13 years, serving as a corporate attorney in his last position there.

Dietrich said: “I am honored to have been selected to lead this great company, and continue the strong momentum established under Bill’s leadership.

“We have an outstanding team of employees and a powerful portfolio of aircraft and service offerings. We are fortunate that Bill will continue to be an asset to our team through his role as Chairman. Together with our Senior Leadership Team and talented base of crew and ground staff employees, I look forward to building future growth opportunities.”  

Continuing to serve on the Senior Leadership Team are Michael Steen, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer, and President and Chief Executive Officer of Titan Aviation Holdings, Inc.; Spencer Schwartz, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; Adam Kokas, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary; and Patricia Goodwin-Peters, Senior Vice President, Human Resources.

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