Q: What's the outlook for the airline industry this year? With high fuel prices and questions about the European debt crisis, is this going to be a tough year for airlines?
A: Yeah, it's challenging. Oil prices are up, there is uncertainty. The revenue environment (travel demand) has been pretty decent thus far this year, but it has to be to offset the very significant increase in fuel prices.
Q: What's your forecast on oil prices?
A: It's a good question, and I have no idea. The only thing I can say is, expect volatility because there is obviously great uncertainty in the Middle East right now, and that has not been helping.
Q: We've had many ticket price increases in the past year. Are consumers and business travelers maxed out?
A: I don't know. Load factors (percentage of seats sold) have been quite strong in the industry by historical standards.
Q: You've got two kids (a college freshman and a high school senior). What would you say if one of them came to you and said, 'Dad, I'm going into the airline business?'
A: I would say that's great. It's a fun business. It's a noble business. It's a hard business, so prepare yourself.
Q: Is it going to be a good career in the future?
A: It has been for me, and it has been for an awful lot of people in this company and others. I think we all tend to be colored by the events of the last decade, which were just so extraordinary. This company has had an 80-year history. It's had a very rich and great history. It's had some good history, it's had some bad history, and I think the last few years have been hard. But I try to take a very long perspective.
Q: You've mentioned that you're in a stressful job. What do you do to relieve stress?
A: I run. I run. I run marathons. I usually run five to six days a week. On the weekdays I'll run four or five miles and then on Saturdays I usually get out and do a 9- or 10-miler. And if I have time, I like to fly-fish, but this is probably not going to be a great year for fishing for me.
Q: When do you get time to run?
A: Early in the morning. I get out there at 5:30. Even on weekends I go do my long run usually early so I can be home when my wife and kids are around. I've been running for a very long time — probably a serious runner for the better part of 20 years. I love it. And the great thing about it is you can do it anywhere you go. I travel a lot, and I love to run in the cities of the world. I just love to hop out and go.
Q: When's your next marathon?
A: Don't have one on the books. This might be a year of the half-marathon. We'll see.
Follow David Koenig at http://www.twitter.com/airlinewriter
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