The Interview

Michael Manning has built a significant portfolio of newspaper, magazine, radio and television interviews featuring guests from stage, screen, television, journalism, music, sports, business and more!

What distinguishes “The Interview” online from many Television and Radio programs of the same genre is that Michael chooses to casually “visit” with each guest as if they were having coffee at a cafĂ© and sharing conversation casually. "In this setting, my guests are much more relaxed and encouraged to be themselves, and the result is the privilege of spending some quality time with someone in a more reflective mood", said Michael. "I have been on both sides of the table, and that experience has allowed me to pose questions with the utmost respect and care to my guests. This allows my audience to gain a sense of their personality. In comes the warmth and often humor resulting in a meaningful experience that really stays with you for some time. And that's what the experience should be!" he said.


Please join Michael for his feature, "The Interview".

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Interview: William J. Flynn CEO of Atlas Air Cargo


William J. Flynn
(Photo Courtesy of Atlas Air)
 
An interview with William J. Flynn, president and Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Air Cargo
By: Michael Manning

William J. Flynn has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. since June 22, 2006 and its subsidiaries, Atlas Air Inc. and Polar Air Cargo Inc. since June 2006. Mr. Flynn has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc. since June 2006. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Agility Holdings Inc. from August 2002 to June 2006. He has spent 30 years in ... the freight forwarding and logistics industry and has held senior executive positions with PWC Logistics, and Sea-Land Service Inc. He was initially recruited in 2002 to lead when PWC Logistics acquired GeoLogistics Corporation in 2005. Before joining GeoLogistics Corp. in 2002, Mr. Flynn served as a Senior Vice President of Merchandise Service Group of CSX Transportation, the railroad unit of CSX Corporation from May 2000 to July 2002. Mr. Flynn served as Senior Vice President - Strategic Planning of CSX Corporation, where he was responsible for its e-business strategy and development, from December 1999 to April 2000. He also served as Senior Vice President of CSX Corporation from 2000 to July 2002. He held various positions at Sea-Land Service Inc., a subsidiary of CSX Corporation from 1977 to 1999. He joined Atlas in 2006. Mr. Flynn has been a Director at Republic Services, Inc. since December 5, 2008. He has been a Lead Director at Horizon Lines Inc. since May 2008. Mr. Flynn has been a Director of Horizon Lines Inc., since December 1, 2006 and Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. since May 2006. Mr. Flynn serves as a Director of Polar Air Cargo Inc., Horizon Lines LLC, Aero Logistics LLC, Polar Air Cargo Worldwide, Inc. and Atlas Air Inc. He served as a Director of Allied Waste Industries Inc. since February 19, 2007 and Agility Holdings Inc., since August 2002. In March 2003, he was awarded the Marco Polo Award by the Government of China, the highest award given to a private person for support of humanitarian activities and business development in China. Mr. Flynn holds a BA degree, summa cum laude, in Latin American Studies from the University of Rhode Island and a Master's degree from the University of Arizona
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(Image Courtesy of Airways Magazine)
The following interview was published in Airways Magazine's September 2014 cover issue
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Manning: We’ve witnessed the collapse of two historical competitors: Evergreen International in January, and World Airways in March. Obviously, they were very vulnerable to the same economic pressures you face at Atlas Air Cargo. How has Atlas structured its business to avoid a similar fate?
 
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Flynn: I think first of all it has to start with our view of the market. Our view is that air freight in particular – we do have passenger services as well – but air freight in particular is, from our point of view, an essential part of the global economy and a long-term growth industry as well. So, the underlying demand in air freight has been flat for the last couple of years. We really didn’t see any appreciable growth in 2011 and 2012, and only started to see evidence of growth in the first quarter of 2013.
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(Photo Courtesy of Atlas Air)
But I think the good news is that has continued, and even the most recent statistics that we were looking at over the past couple of days on May numbers, in our own experience we continue to see growth on a year-over-year basis for the first five months of the year—which is typically the lower demand period. Over the year, air freight is typically second-half weighted. And so I think those are all very good signals for what the full year may be. Hopefully that will continue over what the full year will be. Recognizing that the industry is a long-term growth industry, I think there are several key components to our strategy that are important for Atlas. First, it starts with our fleet. We’ve made substantial investments ever since the company began a little over 20 years ago in having a very modern, very fuel-efficient fleet of aircraft that we could offer to our customers—offer to our ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, Insurance) customers and offer to our charter customers. The newest component to our fleet are nine 747-8. But of course, we have 21 747-400 freighters that we operate as well. We think that in terms of our ACMI and charter operations, that is, indeed, a modern and fuel-efficient fleet that we can bring to our customers. Beyond that, Michael, we have a scale and scope to our operation that I think that conveys and allows us to create additional value for our customers. Last year, we operated in and out of 124 countries and 400-plus cities. But if one were to look at a map of freight flow, and what are the major centers of the world through which freight flows, you would see Atlas has a high level of operation in almost all of those points. So, the scale and scope of the business, the size of our pilot force, the scale and scope of our ability to maintain our aircraft, how we have parts inventories deployed around the world—all that adds up to allowing us to create exceptional value to our customers. So, part of the answer to your question of ‘what have done that might have been different (from Evergreen International and World Airways) is the investment in the fleet, the ability to grow scale, we’ve diversified into the 767 which is the platform that a number of our customers integrated into their operations as well. We also had a very conscious effort dating back to 2006 and moving forward, that we needed to grow and diversify and not be overly-dependent on U.S. military demand for cargo and passenger service.        
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(Photo Courtesy of Scott Wright)
Evergreen International Airlines (1975-2014)
 
Manning:  Looking back, Evergreen International appeared to be a broadly diversified company--from oil exploration to helicopter services. But the company still failed. As you look at their business model, are there any segments that might be of interest to Atlas in the future that you’re currently not pursuing?  For example, offering modified 747 aerial tanker services to the U.S. Forest Service as Evergreen did? 
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Flynn: I think we’ve taken a somewhat different tact than Evergreen—and they were very diversified, as you said, a lot of that driven by the vision of Delford Smith, their founder. But where we diversified, for example, was into aircraft dry leasing. Our historical business and our core is ACMI operations.
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We were able to expand on that by introducing fee-MI services, where our customer owns the aircraft, but we’re operating the aircraft and maintaining it, and providing the network logistics for that. A few years ago, we didn’t have any aircraft under CMI operations. Today we have 14 under CMI operations. From that, we were able to pivot into passenger charter operations as well. Then, the third area that we’ve developed is, indeed, dry leasing. We’ve invested over a billion dollars into the dry leasing business, over the last 15 months or so. We have over 10 aircraft now in dry leasing – six of which are triple-sevens. So, we’ve taken a different approach towards diversification. What we’ve told our investors is that ACMI is our core. We’ll continue to manage our fleet with a view towards modernization—which could mean additional dash 8’s. But we’ll also continue to invest in Titan, which is our dry leasing subsidiary—there also with a focus on freighters.     
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(Photo Courtesy of Atlas Air)
Manning: I noticed in your Strategic Growth Plan for 2014 that military transport demand is declining. In light of this development, you see opportunities to grow into segments outside of that.
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Flynn: Yes, that’s exactly right. I think that anybody who has been participating in military service cargo or passenger services had to expect that demand would contract, as we’ve withdrawn from Iraq and the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan. So, it was urgent, in a way, for us to develop additional areas of our business model. And again, we’ve made an investment the dash 8’s. That was about a billion and a half dollars in those assets and they’re performing well for our customers. And then we did a parallel investment into Titan over the past couple of years, which—if you were to look at our 10-Q for the First Quarter, you’d see a strong growth and contribution in both ACMI and in dry leasing—which offsets the contraction in military (flying), and military will further contract as we complete the withdrawal from Afghanistan over the next year or whenever the (Obama) Administration’s timetable is. I’ll just clarify. There will still be some ongoing military opportunities for business—passenger charter and some cargo. But it’ll be at a much smaller level of operations, more consistent with the pre-9/11 environment than what it’s been for the last thirteen years.
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(Photo Courtesy of Atlas Air)
Manning: What were some of the considerations that went into your decision to order the new Boeing 747-8 series aircraft for the Atlas fleet?
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Flynn: Well, there were several. We knew that at some point in time, customers and we ourselves would be looking for—consistent with our view, the most modern and fuel efficient aircraft available in the market. Aircraft from the freight perspective that would produce the lowest cost to move a kilo or a ton of cargo from Hong Kong to Cincinnati, or Shanghai to Frankfurt—number one.
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Number two, we’ve been operating Boeing freighters for quite a long time—and believe they are excellent freighters—and believe that the 747-8 would be just another great extension of the 747 line from over 40 years ago now. So, what does the 747-8 offer? Well, it offers several things. It offers greater cargo-carrying capacity, substantially-improved fuel efficiency, it utilizes the new gen-ex engines that are being used on the 787, it incorporates a lot of the design features of the 787, including the wing design. It’s an all-metal aircraft. It’s not a carbon fiber aircraft. But it takes advantage of the engineering and design features of the 787. From an ownership point of view, we anticipate that the long life, or the full life maintenance costs to maintain the 747-8 and the engines will be lower than even the full-life maintenance costs of the 747-400’s. So, our view is that it’s a great freighter that certainly something that our customers would want. From the economic point of view it would be a great investment for the company and generate solid returns for us and for our shareholders.
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(Photo Courtesy of Atlas Air)
Manning: Are you satisfied with Atlas’ current fleet composition of Boeing 737’s, a 757, the 767’s, 777’s and 747’s or do you foresee any changes?
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Flynn: Well, you’ve basically run down a list of the freighters that are available in the marketplace. We manage our fleet aggressively. Certainly, I could envision a certain amount of 747-8’s. But in doing so, we would likely reduce the number of 747-400’s. It wouldn’t necessarily be additive. But in exchanging our 747-400’s or exiting our 747-400’s and adding the dash 8’s, there is, I think, real earnings upside potential in that for the company and value for our customers. I expect that we’ll also continue to invest in Titan. So, there the 777 is a very attractive aircraft from a leasing point of view, and I suspect that there will be opportunities to invest in 767’s as well—767’s for freighters. The smaller aircraft, the 737’s and the 757 are probably more opportunistic. The fleet is just smaller. It has more limited application than the other aircraft do, so we’ll probably want to invest in the mid-size and the larger freighters just so we’ve got the best opportunity to deploy them across the market.
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Manning:  Will Atlas remain an all-Boeing operator, or have you considered Airbus at any point as part of your fleet composition?
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Flynn:  Well, right now the only freighter that’s being offered is the A330-200 and that’s a very good freighter. But what we haven’t seen a lot of ACMI opportunity for that freighter. And so the fullest suite of offering right now is by Boeing. I understand that Airbus may be considering an A350 freighter, and if they do, that certainly is something we’d look at. But I don’t know if they’re committed to that freighter yet and what the timing or the delivery of those units might be. But in terms of the large wide-body freighters, there really only are Boeing freighters—the 777, the new 747-8 or the 747-400. There is no large freighter from any other manufacturer.
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(Photo Courtesy of Atlas Air)
Manning:  In years past, airlines such as Champion Air and Sun Country relied heavily on relationships with travel agencies. What is your assessment of the demand for leisure passenger charters?
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Flynn: I would say that we’re actually learning about that, Michael. We first started passenger operations as a CMI operator for SonAir, a subsidiary operator of Sonangol—who is the Angolan state oil company. And what they were looking to do is to have a dedicated service in a luxury configuration between Houston and Luanda to serve the U.S. and Angolan oil and energy companies. That actually got us into passenger operations—that’s how we started. After a year of flying for Sonangol, we were qualified to offer services to the military and we submitted an application to be considered for military operations and were approved by the Air Mobility Command. So, we began passenger operations for the U.S. military. What we found was that there is, indeed, a passenger charter market that’s a commercial passenger charter market, and we’ve been somewhat successful in that over the last couple of years. Basically, that drives higher utilization on the aircraft that we have for the passenger operations for the military. Going forward, I’d say we’re still in the learning mode. How big is that market? What would be the right investment to be in that market? And then you raised a very good question: What are the best sales and distribution channels? Most of commercial passenger charter operations come from well known brokers. So, I’d say we’re in the learning mode and haven’t decided how much more investment might be required, and what would be appropriate for us going forward.
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Manning: Recently, Lufthansa Cargo has postponed a decision on whether to accept Boeing 777 freighters. We’ve noticed that Air France-KLM, Singapore, and Japan Airlines have all reduced the number of freighters they operate. This trend must bode well for Atlas. What are your views on these developments?
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Flynn: It’s interesting as you point out that several very well known freighter-operators—we might consider them some of the pioneers of freighter operations internationally--are changing their business mix around their cargo and freight operation. But others are growing and other parts of the world are growing and creating new opportunities for us as we see higher rates of growth in some of the emerging markets and emerging economies. So I agree with you. It does create a new opportunity for us. Either with traditional airlines, in terms of providing ACMI or CMI operations for them, or working with airlines that are just beginning to really develop their freighter operations and freighter profile, and working with them to help them grow their business, and thereby grow ours as well.
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Manning:  What are your thoughts on the IATA request for its members to shave 48 hours off shipping times? The agency contends that out of the 6.5 days on average it takes to get air freight from door to door, only a few hours is actually spent in the air. Is Atlas changing its procedures with freight forwarders and ground handlers to meet this challenge?
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(Photo Courtesy of Seth Jaworski)
Flynn: I was at the conference in Doha just a week and a half ago, and that was discussed and that’s being discussed at the Cargo summit as well. I think what IATA is underscoring is that there is a need to accelerate the process by which freight is tendered to a forwarder or broker—whoever the receiving party is. And then ultimately move the destination, and it’s either available at the door for pickup or delivery and they are focusing on the process, as opposed to the actual flight time, cause flight times are what they are and certainly not more than that. I think there’s a number of questions there. I think it’s the right focus though, because air freight is expensive. By nature, if you look at what moves air freight it perishable, it’s time-sensitive, it’s high value—there are any number of considerations. I do think there are opportunities to take time out of the supply chain. So, what does Atlas do here? We continue to develop, I think, a suite of information products that our ACMI customers can use and our charter customers can use. That information, more than anything can be uploaded into their supply chain system so they can provide for their own operations and to their customers, an in-transit visibility on the air product. And hopefully, better information can flow back to origin and forward to destination, so that more time and coordination can be made with customs, clearances, airport operations and either door pickup or door delivery.
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(Photo Courtesy of Atlas Air)
Manning: What can we expect from Atlas and it’s subsidiaries in the foreseeable future?
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Flynn: Our very firm belief here is that air freight is a growth industry and an important part of the economy. We’ve made substantial investments to be a leading provider of very high quality services to our customers—and to add to that—to be advisors and consultants to our customers as they think about their operations and their businesses. We will continue to invest in our company in our fleet. I do think that we do have a very deep understanding of global air freight and international markets. I think you’ll see Atlas continuing to not only grow with longstanding customers, but develop new customers, and maybe more so in the emerging north-south market between Latin America and the rest of the world and between South Sahara (East-West) Africa from the Middle East, which is a well established market already.

My thanks to thank Bonnie Rodney and William J. Flynn for making this interview possible.


 


 
 
 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Interview: Screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook

Screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook
Photo-Jeb Rosebrook



Image: 20th Century Fox
(Above): Steve McQueen stars in this Sam Peckinpah-directed film as the title character, an aging rodeo cowboy who returns to his small hometown of Prescott, Arizona during the annual "Frontier Days" Fourth of July rodeo only to discover that the family and culture he once knew is rapidly slipping away. An outstanding cast includes Ida Lupino and Robert Preston as McQueen's estranged parents, Elvira and Ace, Ben Johnson (who just wrapped filming of "The Last Picture Show") as a livestock broker for rodeo's, Joe Don Baker as a shameless opportunist brother, who is getting rich by selling parcels of his father's land to develop a mobile home park, and Barbara Leigh as McQueen's love interest, Charmagne. Peckinpah was eager to change his reputation as a director of violent films, had recently completed filming "Straw Dogs" in London with Dustin Hoffman. The screenplay was written by Jeb Rosebrook, who was enlisted to stay on the movie set for the ten week shoot. 
 
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Photo: Prescott Film Commission
Steve McQueen (1930-1980) on set in Prescott, Arizona.
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Jeb Rosebrook began his professional writing career as a writer-trainee with NBC Television in New York in 1956. In the ensuing years,. he has been published as a novelist and playwright, and as a journalist with Arizona Highways and True West magazines. The majority of his career has been spent in film and television. Among his numerous credits are the Steve McQueen film, "Junior Bonner", Disney's "The Black Hole", television films and the mini-series, Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler", "Mystic Warrior", the re-make of "Miracle on 34th Street", "A Hobo's Christmas", and "The Winds of Kitty Hawk".
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Jeb was nominated for two Writers Guild of America television awards for his two-hour episode of "The Waltons", "The Conflict" (Season 3, 1974) and his adaptation of the novel "The Price of Central Park". He was nominated for an Emmy Award as co-writer of "I Will Fight No More", the story of Chief Joseph. He has taught screenwriting in the graduate school of Creative Writing at ASU and Scottsdale Community College. Currently, he is the author of the just published novel "Purgatory Road and the screenplay, "Willa", based on the life of Willa Carter. Jeb Rosebrook is an Alumnus and Trustee of The Orme School (a central Arizona boys college prep school for grades K-12 located on 26,000 acres of a working ranch).  I opened our visit by mentioning Jeb's 2007 commencement address to Members of Cum Laude, students, faculty, parents and friends of The Orme School. Rosebrook attended the school at the age of 9 after his family relocated from Connecticut to Phoenix.
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Manning: I wanted to ask about your travels across America and how your quiet observations of people and their circumstances would later influence your writing. Your key mentors were the Orme Family.
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Rosebrook: Yeah, I was very lucky. My father was in advertising in New York. He was Vice President of Young & Rubicom. My mother had been on Broadway briefly in 1924, and the later she was with International News Service which was acquired by United Press. Basically, the people at the Orme School who ran the ranch--the man whose Chapel I spoke in--Mort Orme was my advisor. I always liked to write, because I was an asthmatic and stayed at home a lot and liked to write my own comic strips I had drawn and I loved to read. I guess it was really when my parents gave me a station wagon years later --I mean, how many kids have parents loan them their car to take off and drive all across the country by themselves when they've never been more than 85 miles miles away from home!
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Manning: That had to be a wonderful experience.
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Rosebrook: Willa Cather once said that everything you experience between age 8 and 15 is what forms the writer and I think that's true.
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Manning: That's interesting. My first essay was a piece I had written in the 4th grade about my brother called "Hot Summer In Vietnam". And I still have that framed on my dining room wall at home.
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Rosebrook: Yeah, and that's when I started writing at 9 years-old. Did your brother come home okay?
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Manning: He did, yes. Thank you. Your name is prominently displayed on the mural inside The Palace Bar (the Prescott, Arizona bar where key scenes of "Junior Bonner" were filmed). A group of us visited last weekend with Marshall Terrill.
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Photos--Michael Manning
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Rosebrook: That mural was done originally, sometime in the 70's or early 80's when The Palace was still in the throes of really not doing very well. The bar next door, Matt's is still a pretty strong cowboy bar and The Palace had gone through a number of owners. It was a punk bar at one time. The mural did not have my name on it. Peckinpah's was and Steve McQueen's was. When Dave, the owner, bought The Palace--he was out of Newport Beach, California. The mural was behind an area where they would shoot baskets near a shuffleboard and it was really covered with layers of smoke. So, when Dave and his partners bought it, they cleaned up the mural and added my name. You know, it gives you an idea of the stature of the writer (mutual laughter).
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Manning: You know, I was going over your credits as a screenwriter for film and television and I kept trying to find a thread that would lead me to your original four-page treatment called "Bonner" that would eventually become the McQueen movie. What inspired you to write "Bonner"? Did you have someone on mind or was it someone that you met?
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Rosebrook: Not really. As far as rodeos are concerned, when I was in Orme we had roundups in the Fall. But in some ways, I was a real little cowboy. In high school, I went to at least one junior rodeo. I've been to rodeos before in Madison Square Garden in New York with my mother. But the couple of summers that I worked at Orme as a ranch hand, I went to the Prescott Rodeo. In 1970, I went up there and I had not been to a rodeo since 1955. We were pretty busted financially. I was still trying to sell something. I sold an option of a script to James Coburn--my first script. That kind of gave me a leg-up on at least getting in the door with an agent. What really struck me was driving outside of Prescott that day and seeing the homes being built in Prescott Valley. There were then about twelve-hundred people living in Prescott Downs and homes were being built all over the place with banners and signs. That really somehow subconsciously--I connected the rodeo with that. It just somehow came about that somebody who was from there, who was coming back and who had a brother in real estate who was a developer making his first million, and the other brother was in the rodeo--that's kind of the way it all came about. I have a very good friend who is a poet in Colorado who told me one day that the majority of my writing really reflects the fact that I left home when I was 9. I was never back home more than three months a year. Many of the things that I've written really have to do with the loss of land, of the way things were--even if you take "I Will Fight No More Forever". It's the story of Chief Joseph, the chief of the Nez Perce Indians. They were not the Christian branch of the Nez Perce that had been baptized. He wanted to be free. It was a year after the Battle of Little Big Horn. The Army gave General Howard--who I think was from Cincinnati-- Howard was a one-armed General and he wanted Joseph to stay on the reservation. Joseph didn't want to do it. So, he and the Nez Perce band took off. It was a year after Custer, and America became alarmed that the band of Nez Perce was loose. They still teach his battle tactics at West Point. He ended up going through Yellow Stone. They were trying to meet with Sitting Bull who had gone to Canada after Little Big Horn. They got within 40 miles of Canada. They had more women and children than anything. They decided to stop and rest before entering Canada and that's where General Miles and the Army caught up with them. That was, in a sense, the same kind of story.
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Manning: Sure.
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Rosebrook: "The Waltons" was Earl Hammer--whom I've known since I was 21 years-old--he created "The Waltons". So, I had a chance to write about Virginia on that (television) series. I was able to incorporate some of my own experiences into many of the things I was lucky enough to be able to write. One of "The Gambler" episodes I did with Kenny Rogers--I rewrote a guy in 1987 who had written a script that was un-shootable. It was a forced march. I was writing while they were filming. But it was about Sitting Bull and how The Gambler had to go see Sitting Bull--it was about the death of Sitting Bull. So, I wrote at least three Native American pieces. I'm not sure I could do that today because of political correctness.
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Manning: One question I feel everyone reading this will want to know is what working with Steve McQueen was like for you?
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Rosebrook: Well, the most vivid memory I have is just being called into his trailer that last couple weeks of filming before we did that big dance and fight scene in The Palace Bar. Actually, it was the scene where he was dancing with Barbara Leigh. That's when he asked me, "By the way, why am I called Junior?" Now, this is August. The previous November, I had started writing the script about "Junior Bonner". Incidentally, it wasn't until I started writing the script that the father showed up, then the dog--I still have no idea how this got there! He had a way of wanting to do dialogue in his own way. So, here was the scene and I couldn't answer his question, and I thought I was going to catch hell for that. I mean. 'Who do you think you are? A big-time writer who wrote the script and you don't know who Junior is?' He just said, "Okay". Then we went out and filmed the scene and I believe the way it went was--I believe you know that Barbara and Steve were not exactly strangers. They knew each other well enough to have this dance and this kind of 'let it fly' --so to speak. In the process, she says "Why do they call you Junior?"
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Manning: I remember that.
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Rosebrook: And Steve said "I don't know".

Manning: In the phone booth.
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Lobby Card--20th Century Fox
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Rosebrook: Yeah, in the phone booth, that's right. Now, that's a memory! (mutual laughter). There were others where we had been working for two weeks and he wanted to work on changing some of his dialogue with Ida Lupino. Although I was there, those are the things that Steve may have consulted with (director) Sam Peckinpah. He knew in his mind what he wanted to do and he wanted to try it out. I don't think Steve was a Method actor.
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Manning: No, I don't either.
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Rosebrook: But he certainly came from instincts. That day all afternoon--I think Bill Pierce (former Vice Chair of The Prescott Film Commission) took you by the house--and Ida Lupino was one of the very first women directors, and she was a real pro. She knew her lines. And she wasn't going to budge from the way she knew her lines. He'd fool around with his lines and kind of throw her off. They filmed all afternoon. In filming terminology, when you have a scene that works you "print it". If you have a scene that might work, you put a "hold" on it. The whole afternoon it was all "holds", there were no prints. When he left--you remember that kitchen scene with the apple pie?
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Manning: Oh, yeah!
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Rosebrook: She said "You better know your lines tomorrow or your going to eat a hell of a lot of apple pie". So, he came by the next day and (snaps his fingers) it went like that.
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Manning: She didn't work for 6 years before "Junior Bonner".
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Rosebrook: Longer than that. She had done a Clifford Odetts movie based on his play "The Big Knife" in 1955 about Hollywood. And Marty Baum who ran ABC Pictures originally had Susan Hayward in mind. Susan Hayward came out and met with Peckinpah, (producer) Joe Wizan and me for lunch. I mean this story's been told many times. We were so impressed with being with Susan Hayward that we didn't talk about the movie! So, she didn't think we wanted her and she went home to Florida. Then Marty thought about Ida Lupino--and that I think turned out to be a great choice. Because Ida was a consummate actress. She and Robert Preston had worked in motion pictures early on. I wish we had a tape recorder there.
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Early on in filming, Bill Holden was living in Palm Springs. He drove up from Palm Springs to Prescott to see Sam because they had met on "The Wild Bunch". So, he had a dinner for Bill Holden and it was really something to sit there and listen to Holden, and Robert Preston and Ida talking about their days when they were under studio contract. But with McQueen, I think the toughest time---there was a lot of concern. Steve had been involved with firing Sam Peckinpah off of "The Cincinnati Kid" years before. Norman Jewison, who was a much more experienced director took over and did a great job. So there was a lot of 'What's going to happen between these two guys?' And actually they hit it off very well, because there was no press around. I think there was no press around because Steve had just split from Neile (Adams) and he wanted a summer to himself.
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Photos-Michael Manning
The Railroad Depot is today the "Depot Marketplace" in Prescott. The tracks are long gone from the back of the property, and a Hospice Center administrative office is a tenant in the left-hand portion of the building.
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One of the best scenes shot in cinema occurred through this rear arch way between Steve McQueen and Robert Preston on a bench where the rock is situated.
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 Image-20th Century Fox
When it came time to do the scene at the railroad depot, the rehearsal--here was Robert Preston who knew all of his lines--Sam had written some of the other lines in there about the whore house in Nevada. But most of the other lines were mine. I had a fraternity brother named Dan Cox. And I saw him last year for the first time in years. I said to him, "Dan, I made you famous". Dan would have a few drinks at a fraternity party and say "As long as sex lives, my name will never die" (mutual laughter). So, I used that in that scene. Steve says, "You remember Bob Cox?" Steve was having a very difficult time--and I think it was maybe his relationship that he never had with his father--that was a pretty personal scene in which Robert Preston wants to go to Australia and Curly won't send him, so he thinks he can hit Junior up for the money and Junior doesn't have any money. The rehearsal was very difficult.
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Images-20th Century Fox
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Steve could not--would not put his arms around that scene. I don't want to go into the whole thing, but finally he put on his shirt--because lots of times he never wore a shirt--that guy was really put together--considering how much he smoked and all that. Once they did the scene--one of the things that was added was the day before, Sam and I sat and talked about what the scene was about. One of the things that's key about that scene was that maybe there was something about me and my father in there. You know, I wasn't always with my father and Sam said. "You know when my father got upset with me"---Sam had grown up on a ranch--"he would cuff my hat off my head". Did you know about this?
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Manning: Oh, yeah.
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Rosebrook: That's how that happened. In the end, it is a powerful scene put together by Steve's feelings, Preston's work and Sam's cuffing the hat when the train comes through. It was really well done.
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Manning: He makes you feel that emotion, doesn't he? When he turns and shuts his eyes as Preston walks across the track just as the train passes.
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Rosebrook: It's the first time, I think--I can't be sure about this--that may have been as close as Steve McQueen ever came to crying in a movie. And then at the end of it he said, "We're going to do the wild cow milking together". And only once did he call him "Pop". Throughout the whole movie, he (Robert Preston) was "Ace". He never could call him Dad. Now, whether that's the way he wanted to do because that's the way he felt, I don't know. And as I mentioned the other night--the last time we were filming Steve was the opening of the movie--the thunderstorm, the car. He ended up in Jerome. Jerome is a mining town on Mingus Mountain near Prescott. It's really an interesting old town. Steve never had any money. And he asked me to buy him a six-pack of beer (mutual laughter). The other memory was when he met my daughter, Catherine, who was 5 at the time. We were outside the motel where we were staying, and Dorothy was with me and Steve was there. And Catherine, my daughter, was so shy and she held her head down and Steve put his hand on her head. And to this day, she says she met Steve McQueen but she never saw him!
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 Images-20th Century Fox
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Manning: I can't think of a better supporting cast than Ida Lupino and Robert Preston...
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 Ben Johnson and Steve McQueen
Images-20th Century Fox
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Rosebrook: ...And Ben Johnson! There were two great things about Ben Johnson. The first, when we were doing rehearsals for a week, Steve told everybody "This guy sitting here right next to me is going to win an Academy Award this year. I saw the rough cut last week of 'The Last Picture Show' and he's going to win the award." Secondly, Steve nailed me again. Once in a while, I can come up with a good line. Like, at the end of the fight (scene) somebody said "What do we do now?" and I said "Let's play 'Star Spangled Banner'--let's play something patriotic". And I wandered over to the bar when Robert Preston says "Up to the mouth, over the gums, look out stomach here she comes. If this world's all about winners, what's for losers?" I had a line in there and Steve didn't like the line. So he said, "Give me a line". Finally, Ben was sitting next to Steve and he said, "Some body's gotta hold the horses don't they?". Now, he had probably stolen that from John Ford, but it worked! That in essence, when it works is what moviemaking can be about. A lot of writers don't go on location because the directors and the actors don't want them there. Because they can be a pain in the ass, they want lines changed. You really can't bring your ego with you, because it really is a collaborative effort. That's a good Steve memory--when he nailed me and when I bought his beer.
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Manning: Was it Old Milwaukee?
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Rosebrook: No, it was Miller. We had a contract with Miller, Coca Cola and Wild Turkey in that film. If someone was drinking a beer, it was Miller. If they were drinking Cola it was Coca-Cola and if there was someone drinking the hard stuff, it was Wild Turkey.
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Photos: Barbara Leigh
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Manning: Barbara Leigh and I discussed the ending, and I told her about being 14 years-old and being in the movie theater with my next door neighbor who was my buddy as a kid, and we couldn't get over her beauty for weeks! We couldn't possibly understand how or why Steve's character dropped her off at that small airport, put her on a plane and said he had to get on down the road!
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Rosebrook: There's another one in the next town.
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Manning: Barbara Leigh? Not as far as we were concerned! (laughter).
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Rosebrook: Or why he didn't take her to El Paso? No. Steve and Sam were hell bent on getting Ali MacGraw for "The Getaway". And (Peter) Bogdanovich had backed out of directing Steve and Ali in "The Great Gatsby". So, they kind of conspired because she kept turning down that script. It was written and re-written. That's what I understand. I mean, I wasn't there.
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Manning: Is this the film that most people mention most to you in your career?
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Image: Walt Disney
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Rosebrook: Oh, yeah. Because I haven't done many movies. Now, they bring up "The Black Hole" a lot. When it came out, I was in a bookstore in L.A. for a book signing---by somebody else---and there was a Science Fiction nut there. And those people can really be screwy. I said, "You know, I was involved in writing--because I was the fifth or sixth writer--one of the worst Science Fiction movies of all time". And he said "What's that?" I said, "The Black Hole". Well, "The Black Hole" now is pretty popular. I've heard now they're going to try and remake it. They should. When "Junior Bonner" was not a commercial success, I had a thing that I always regret. I was sent over to meet with Jon Voight's manager and I kinda wish that there was something that I could have come up with for Jon Voight. My career then went into television because "Junior Bonner" was a critical success, but not a financial success. And the next thing I knew, I had an opportunity to rewrite "Miracle on 34th Street"--which was nice because you're not typecast. I had grown up in New York, and I was able to take my knowledge of writing ads for a department store and kind of update what the original "Miracle" was.
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Manning: Are you surprised that "Junior Bonner" has become so enormously popular in DVD sales over the past 9 years? It now enjoys a type of cult status.
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Rosebrook: Really? I do know that it's been on DVD and video before that. It changes production companies on the DVD about every three or four years. Somebody has rights to it, then somebody else takes it over. I've never even seen the Commentary as a matter of fact. I have it at home but I've never watched it. It's amazing to me that I was never asked to do a commentary. Garner Simmonds wrote the first book on Peckinpah, and I know he's in there. I am surprised and I'm not surprised.
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One of the reasons, there's a guy named Mike Clark who writes movie reviews for USA Today , and after 9/11 he wrote a list of "10 Movies People Should See" to give them a feeling about how they should feel about America and "Junior Bonner" was one of them. Clark has been a big fan of "Junior Bonner" and I've written to thank him because every time it comes back on DVD, he writes a beautiful thing about it. Steve felt it should have been released as an art film--a big release but in small theaters and let its audience grow. In the years since, it has grown. I didn't want it advertised as a rodeo movie. There have been two other rodeo movies, "The Honkers" and "J.W. Coop" and rodeo movies, historically have never made any money". Somebody has told me that there's never been a submarine movie that's lost money. But on the other hand, there's never been a car racing movie or a rodeo movie that ever made money. I felt it was a form of family drama. It just so happened these people were in the rodeo. After all, one of them is in real estate. And it was about change--there's no doubt about that. Family dynamics. I originally saw Warren Oates and Strother Martin (laughter). I liked smaller movies. When they said "We're going to use Steve McQueen", I said "Oh, that'll be another Steve McQueen movie". It was about this time, maybe two weeks later, I had finished writing "Junior Bonner" but I was still rewriting scenes. So, I came home from lunch one day--my office wasn't too far from home, and (my wife) Dorothy said "Joe Wizan just called and you're to pick him up to go to Steve McQueen's house tonight". I didn't have time to reflect on this at the time. I picked up Joe and here I am at Steve McQueen's house.
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Manning: This is in Brentwood or Palm Springs?
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Rosebrook: Brentwood. That's when Neile was making dinner for the kids and that's when Steve was outside doing something. He comes in and sits down and immediately--doesn't waste any time and gets into the script. Finally, he looked at Joe and he looked at me and said, "Why doesn't he take notes?" And Joe covered really well and said , "Well, Jeb remembers everything. He'll go home tonight and write this down". But Joe was sweating a little.
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Manning: You never stayed in touch with him after the film?
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Image-20th Century Fox
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Rosebrook: He wasn't a guy to stay in touch with a writer. Not Steve. I mean, I was a tool. And I don't want to put myself down. But I was a vehicle to get into this movie and to get Peckinpah into it and to get the cast into it. The Barbara Leigh story was really a story about a girl who worked in a bank in Phoenix, and her life was kind of dull, and she had a Volkswagon, and she came to Prescott to raise a little hell and have some fun and maybe meet somebody. So, she meets "Junior Bonner". And most of the scenes in The Palace are really personal scenes between Steve and the girl. Sam decided they needed more action, so he said, "Let's have a fight". We also said, "Let's throw in that she's a rich girl"--that she's on the arm of a rich guy. I think that whole scene about, "Hey, you're Junior Bonner"-- taking pictures'--it wasn't--I didn't want that in there. He's with the dog by the horse trailer and the guys walk up with the camera.
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Manning: Oh, yeah..."We go back six years ago", and "Well, I'll tell ya, six years is a long time".
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Rosebrook: That was Sam...it works. But it wasn't real to me. One of the things I will take credit for is that some of the music in there, I had written into the script.
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Manning: I've thoroughly enjoyed this Jeb.
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Rosebrook: Thank you, Michael.
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 Jeb Rosebrook's New Book in 2014
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Jeb Rosebrook's newly-released book, "Purgatory Road: On the Road Between Heaven and Hell (The Charlemagne Trilogy)" is about life in 1950's Arizona. You can find it on Amazon.com.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Interview: Asset Manager Glen Langdon (Part 3 of 3)

(Photo: Pan Am)
Manning: The commercial aviation industry in the U.S. is an absolute financial mess. Who will survive and who will fail? We have so much over-capacity, at least four airlines (Delta, Comair, Northwest and Mesaba) are operating under Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. What are your predictions?

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Langdon: Let's focus for a moment on some of the economic effects of the events of 2001. Obviously there was a disastrous decline in traffic and in airline profitability. Among the very obvious effects were the bankruptcies of 2 of the 7 largest airlines in the U.S. - United Airlines and US Airways (US Airways emerged from Chapter 11 in September 2005, and United emerged in February 2006). Not so obvious was the diversion of 30% of the passenger traffic from the large network carriers to Low-Cost-Low Fare carriers like Southwest and JetBlue and the profitability of these carriers under very difficult economic circumstances. The low cost business model has caught the attention of the hub & spoke carriers (the "Legacy Carriers" such as American, Continental, Delta, United and Northwest) as they scramble to reduce their operating costs to match their reduced revenue potential before they run out of cash. The struggle to reduce labor costs has been foremost on the minds of the large network carriers, in addition to efforts to reduce fleet size and simplify fleet types. United and U.S. Airways both achieved this from within Chapter 11, using the threat of Chapter 7 (shut down and liquidation) as a weapon. American and Continental have chosen, for the moment, to avoid Chapter 11. In the wake of 9/11 it was reasonable to expect that as the economy stabilized and as fears of terrorism receded, the demand for travel would rise and used aircraft prices would recover over 2 to 3 years.
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Manning: It went from bad to worse, didn't it?
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(Photo: Sabena Airlines)
Langdon: It did! As a result of the continuing threat of terrorism, combined with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the bankruptcies of major airlines--here in the United States and elsewhere including SAS (Scandinavian Air System), Hawaiian (emerged from Chapter 11 in 2005) Air Canada (emerged from Chapter 11) and Sabena (the Belgian airline was shockingly liquidated along with the equally legendary Swissair of Switzerland following years of bad management and a failed merger of Sabena and Swissair). The perception of "normal" airline traffic is also changing fundamentally in US-related markets. The business traveler has become tired of paying through the nose for an insufficiently differentiated product that can be purchased at substantially reduced costs by traveling on Low-Cost/ Low-Fare like Southwest, AirTran and JetBlue. So what if they have to change planes half way to the destination? The leisure traveler typically only wants low fares and some rational choice concerning travel dates and might conceivably consider riding a duck to his or her destination if the fare was low enough and some assurance of safety could be given! The press has been treated to daily announcements of labor's concessions to the reality of the bankruptcy process and the desperate need of the airlines to reduce labor costs. As a result of fleet rationalization by United Airlines and U.S. Airways alone, the availability of jet aircraft for sale or lease will probably notch up another 2% to 9% - to roughly 1,350 aircraft - which is where it was just prior to 9/11. The other large U.S. legacy airlines including American, Delta, Northwest and Continental to a lesser degree...
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(Photo: Swissair Airlines)
Manning: Today, a well run company....
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Langdon: ....will probably be forced to restructure their operating costs and downsize their fleets in order to remain competitive with the reorganized, leaner, and smaller versions of United and US Airways (merged with America West as the 5th Largest carrier in the United States and is profitable). Between them, these four airlines currently operate 2,280 aircraft; they have 267 new aircraft on firm order with Boeing and Airbus; and they have 868 options to purchase additional aircraft. Conservatively, these airlines will probably have to retire 15% to 20% of their current fleets to stay in the game. Both business models are expected to survive.
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Manning: I hate to sound skeptical. But can't we right-size to three legacy carriers and three Low Cost-Low-Fare domestic carriers? 
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(Photo: Midway Airlines)
Langdon: Sure. The continuing evolution of the Low Cost/Low-Fare Carrier model will keep the pressure on the network carriers to significantly reduce their costs and to differentiate their product to match the market demand. In the short term, the network carriers will focus on liquidity as the key to survival - in or outside of bankruptcy. The Low Cost/Low-Fare Carriers will focus on expansion at the expense of the network carriers.

Friday, January 03, 2014

The Interview: Asset Manager Glen Langdon (Part 2 of 3)

 
Manning: The Eastern Airlines story was quite emotional with a very bitter labor strike that was playing out before the country. You came in long after the airline ceased operations. Give us some idea what the overall experience was like for you?
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Langdon: Well, Michael, the Eastern assignment was particularly challenging for me because the Eastern shutdown affected so many people, ranging from employees through customers to creditors and competitors, that it was impossible to perform the tasks at hand without bumping up against emotionally-charged issues which had to be handled with sensitivity. Former Eastern pilots would call to plead with me not to sell a particular aircraft, to which they had some sense of attachment, but to donate it to a museum or to an ex-employee group.
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Manning: Marty Shugrue told me, "We weren't just talking about livelihoods. We were talking about people's lives!" Give us a few "behind the scenes" experiences you encountered?
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Langdon: Here are a few 'behind the scenes' experiences: During the 1995-98 time frame, Venezuela was under strict currency restrictions which severely limited the abilities of its airlines ASERCA, AVENSA and SERVIVENSA to export capital in the form of rental payments owed to the ESLT (the Eastern Secured Liquidation Trust). The complicated political contacts and connections I had to make in order to actually collect the cash was challenging. I spent a lot of time in both Valencia with the management of ASERCA, and in Caracas with the management of AVENSA-SERVIVENSA and with various Venezuelan bureaucrats. With the management of both airlines, we negotiated repayment in full of the amounts owed. But...in the end, every payment had to be hand-collected.
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Manning: You were in a foreign country when it suddenly began to unravel like a Bruce Willis Die Hard movie as I understand it? What happened?

(Photo: Avensa Airlines)
Langdon: In the former AVENSA-SERVIVENSA situation, which involved seven Douglas DC-9-31's, there were several moments which gave me some anxiety. One day, at the invitation of Henry Lord Boulton the Chairman and CEO of AVENSA, I flew to Caracas. The passengers at Caracas normally disembarked down truck-mounted air stairs onto the tarmac and then walked into the terminal building where they cleared customs and immigration and picked up their baggage. On this occasion, in a break with routine, I was met at the bottom of the air stairs by two large men in identical blue suits and sunglasses standing in front of a black limousine.
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Manning: This doesn't sound good. 
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Langdon: It was something else. One asked for my passport and the other pushed me into the car. A third man, the driver, stomped on the accelerator the second the door was closed. We drove across the tarmac, through 2 security gates without slowing down and then we blew through downtown Caracas to AVENSA's headquarters. The meeting with Mr. Boulton was very pleasant and productive, and 3 hours later I was back in the car headed to the airport. I was handed my passport and dropped at the regular check in area in front of the terminal. In the passport control line I became concerned as I realized there was no entry stamp in my passport. When I reached the glassed-in cubicle and handed over my passport, the man inside the booth became very agitated and shouted to several armed security guards posted nearby who stepped around me in such a way as to prevent me from moving from the spot. There was considerable loud but muffled discussion in Spanish going on inside the booth between the man waving my passport around and three other passport control officers. With hand gestures only and without explanation, I was then escorted by a team of four armed security guards to a small second floor room with no windows and only a metal desk and a metal folding chair. They locked me in and left.
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Manning: I would have thought I'd been kidnapped. What happened next?
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Langdon: An hour and a half later, and with only seconds remaining until my scheduled return flight to Miami, the door was unlocked by a very pretty young woman in a business suit who handed me my passport as she explained in flawless, unaccented English that there had been a mix up which had now been cleared up and to please follow her quickly as they were holding the outbound aircraft at the gate. Later, as I slumped in my seat looking out the window at the Caribbean far below, I speculated on that alternative scenario that you mentioned.
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ManningScary.
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Langdon: And then, in the ASERCA situation, which involved four DC-9-31's, there was another moment which caused serious anxiety. On my first trip to Caracas, I made arrangements to meet with the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of the airline who, it was explained to me, would fly from Valencia to Caracas for the meeting the next day. Later that evening, I received a message that there had been a change of plan and a car would be sent for me to travel to Valencia instead.
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Manning: What was your thought at that point?
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(Photo: Aserca Airlines)
Langdon: No problem. The next morning, the driver from ASERCA picked me up at the hotel in a big black Mercedes at the appointed hour and off we drove.


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Manning: Always a black limousine. These guys mean business.

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Langdon: I attempted to make small talk with the driver and, given our inability to speak the other's language, we communicated fairly well. However, I became increasingly nervous because the driver never allowed the speedometer to drop below 120 miles per hour. I asked why he was driving so fast and was met with silence. The scenery was racing past the windows in a blur. I persisted and asked him to slow down. No answer. I asked again. This time the driver whipped out his cell phone and dialed one-handed as he sped down the road.

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Manning: Good God.
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Langdon: After several minutes of rapid fire Spanish, the driver handed the cell phone to me - it was the Chief of Maintenance for the airline on the other end - and he explained in English that the stretch of highway that we were on was infamous in Venezuela for armed holdups complete with barricades and machine guns and the kidnapping for ransom of foreign businessmen.
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Manning: I'm almost afraid to ask you about SARO (a Mexican airline that collapsed with enraged employees that were not paid for months)?
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(Photo: Saro Airlines)
Langdon: The SARO situation in Monterrey, Mexico was completely different from either of the Venezuelan situations. SARO had previously collapsed financially, all of the employees were laid off, and the two remaining ESLT-owned (ex-Eastern Airlines) DC-9-31 aircraft were parked. The Mexican DGAC (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) was unhappy because the airline had made commitments to serve airports in Northern Mexico, which it did not keep.
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Manning: Then you come along.
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Langdon: Well, the airline had left many unpaid obligations for airport gate rentals as well as for navigation and landing fees. The airport manager at Monterrey was being criticized for not being more alert to the financial troubles of SARO. As a result of this bickering, the Mexican DGAC was initially not cooperative about de-registering the aircraft from the Mexican register and/or permitting the aircraft to leave Mexico pending payment of the unpaid fees.
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Manning: Glen, excuse me for cutting in. Just so my readers understand, the registration numbers you are talking about can be seen painted near the tail sections of U.S. airliners and usually begin with the letter "N". Correct?
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Langdon: That's right.
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Manning: Okay. Please continue.
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Langdon: I appealed to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City to intercede with the DGAC on behalf of the Eastern Secured Liquidation Trust to de-register and export the aircraft back to the US. Ultimately, this tactic was successful and the aircraft were de-registered and ready to be flown to Mojave, California. In the meantime, SARO's furloughed maintenance employees were very unhappy about not being paid. The members of the labor union had physically hijacked the technical records for the two aircraft, divided them up between various private homes of ex-employees in Monterrey, and were holding the records hostage until they were paid their back wages.
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Manning: What a headache!
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Langdon: For several months, I attempted to negotiate the release of the technical records through members of the former management of SARO in return for a financial settlement of their claims. These discussions collapsed as management began to pursue its own financial settlement agenda and to become complicit in the ransoming of the records. At the request of the union, the airport manager had the aircraft towed away from the main terminal and parked in a field well away from paved surfaces and runways to prevent us from repossessing the aircraft. I hired 4 American Airlines pilots to fly to Monterrey for the purpose of flying the two DC 9-31 aircraft back to the US.
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ManningAmerican Airlines pilots had operated the type until what? Twelve years ago? They were certified on that aircraft.
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Langdon: Yes, they were. And they did fly the nines at one time. So, the pilots checked into motels surrounding the airport on the day before the planned flights. Flight plans were filed to fly from Monterrey, Mexico to San Antonio, Texas at 10:00 p.m. the following evening. The next night our pilots boarded both aircraft, started the engines and taxied across the fields to the runways where they were prevented from taking off by several pickup trucks full of armed ex-employees and armed policemen.
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Manning: Armed militants and police together?
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Langdon: That was the situation, yes! Mexican legal counsel was then authorized to circumvent the management group and to hold settlement meetings directly with the union members. The attorney made various payments and took possession of the technical records. However, the technical records were incomplete, thereby preventing maximum financial recovery from a sale. The aircraft were physically relocated back to the U.S. The aircraft were finally sold to another Mexican airline - AEROCALIFORNIA - with plans to operate from Baja, California to Monterrey, Los Angeles and various other cities and a willingness to deal with the demands of the militant ex-SARO employees. The technical records were finally reassembled and the aircraft re-deployed into revenue service.
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Glen concludes our visit tomorrow with a candid look at the future of the airline industry in the United States.