News & Reviews News Wire Amtrak names Atlas Air’s Flynn to succeed Anderson as CEO (updated) NEWSWIRE

Amtrak names Atlas Air’s Flynn to succeed Anderson as CEO (updated) NEWSWIRE

By Angela Cotey | March 2, 2020

| Last updated on November 3, 2020

New chief executive to take office April 15; Anderson to remain as advisor for remainder of year

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William Flynn, chairman and former CEO of Atlas Air Worldwide and a former CSX executive, will succeed Richard Anderson as Amtrak CEO.

Following a New York Times report earlier today, Amtrak confirmed the hiring with a press release late Monday morning. The passenger railroad says Flynn will take over as CEO on April 15, with Anderson remaining through the end of the year as an advisor to Flynn.

“Bill is the right executive to lead us into the future,” Amtrak board chairman Tony Coscia said in the release. “We’ve never been stronger as a company than we are today. We are modernizing the customer experience and delivering our service to more people. Bill has a consistent track record of growing and improving complex transportation businesses. We are confident he will build upon the strong foundation of record-setting growth and improvement set by the board, Richard, and the entire Amtrak team.”

Flynn will become the third Amtrak CEO in a little more than three years, and the second from the airline industry. Anderson, the former CEO at Delta Airlines, became the passenger railroad’s sole CEO on Jan. 1, 2018, after a period serving as co-chief executive with former Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman. The Wall Street Journal, in a subscriber-only article, quotes Coscia as saying Flynn will receive an annual salary of $475,000 and is expected to serve as CEO for at least five years.

That salary will be a modest one compared to Flynn’s earnings at Atlas Air, where he was CEO from 2006 until December 2019. The website, citing proxy filings, says Flynn received $6.9 million in total compensation in 2018, the most recent year for which figures are available. That included $3.35 million in cash compensation — $1.13 million in base pay and $2.21 million in bonuses.

“Amtrak’s future is incredibly bright and I’m excited to join the team,” Flynn said in the press release. “Amtrak service is vital to millions of Americans across the nation and by improving the customer experience, driving safety, and strengthening our partnership with states and other stakeholders, we can do much more for the American people.”

Flynn was at CSX Corp. from 2000 to 2002, holding positions including Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and Senior Vice President at CSX Transportation. He also spent time in senior management positions at CSX Corp. subsidiary Sea-Land Services.

Atlas Air describes itself as “a leader in global airfreight,” worth more than 3,200 employees in 89 countries. It includes three freight air carriers — Atlas Air, Polar Air Cargo, and Southern Air — as well as aviation fleet leasing. The company plays a significant role in’s air cargo delivery. It has been in a contentious labor negotiation with its pilots since its 2016 acquisition of Southern Air, as outlined on Teamsters and Atlas Air labor websites.

— Updated at 11:20 a.m. CST with Amtrak confirmation and comments, and at 11:30 a.m. and 12:05 p.m. with additional details.

25 thoughts on “Amtrak names Atlas Air’s Flynn to succeed Anderson as CEO (updated) NEWSWIRE

  1. “This is the first I’ve heard of this–today is Friday morning March 6th. Any details on why Anderson is out–officially?”

    Other than being a total jerk-off and running Amtrak into the ground while trying to remake it in Delta Airlines Image? Good riddance. I hope the Flynn abandons the Amtrak remake per airline specifications. We can all see that Anderson;s approach was misguided and a flop. You can’t put all your eggs in one basket. The Northeast Corridor but not at the expense of everything else.

    Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out Messr. Anderson. Your legacy will be one of ruining what your predecessors had finally started to make good on.

  2. wow, so Propeller Head is on the way out, this guy is also an airline man but does have some RR experience, so he won’t totally clueless as to how it works. Maybe he did not spend a lot of time at CSX but more than Anderson did at any RR-which was none. Let’s wait and see what happens, I have 3 Amtrak trips planned this year, just to Chi for convention in May. A longer one in June, going into PA and riding trains along with the rental car, Will have a longer ride on the Cardinal from DC to Chi. And hopefully later in summer trying CONO again, last year I cancelled with all the busing, did not want to use my Amtrak points for a lengthy bus ride. Will have a chance to try the “new” meals on PA trip as we will be in coach, but on CONO, I always take a roomette.

  3. This is the first I’ve heard of this–today is Friday morning March 6th. Any details on why Anderson is out–officially?
    His successor has to bring back printed Timetables. I was out on the Boston & Providence and had no way of knowing when Amtrak might hit. I don’t want a smart phone and their displays aren’t good–paper has its uses. If I ever have to fly I go to a travel agent.
    In the 1980’s I was friendly with a travel agency I did all my bookings through; they let me go in back and read the Official Guide which by then had become an Amtrak handbook basically with all the fare structures. In it I suddenly noted in July 1983 that you could now book sleeping cars to points south of NYP to/from Boston on discount excursion tickets. Eight sleeping car trips on the Federal/NightOwl in 1984 alone.
    Amtrak’s on-line ticketing is awful enough I avoid it. Too difficult to find out what trains are when where and you can’t change your choices easily after you’ve made them. The Philly nightmare wherein on #66 for Boston where the train had left Washington and/or southern points the previous day you ALWAYS had to double-check whether you were being ticketed on the RIGHT day–even in the days of human beings but humans always double-checked!

  4. Intersti g to see what will happen. In the last few years, mainline excursion trains like 261. I tried to ride a train to the Wisconsin Dells, no senior citizen tickets had to buy full fare tickets. If you have 3 or more kids traveling, the 3rd or more kids must pay full fare, ridiculous. Food service changes. So Delta dick, good buy, I have serious concerns about why someone with no passenger rail experience was nominated, think logically. I would think someone within Amtrak could handle this. The only thing that might work with Flynn is a return of mail service. Let’s see what new items he can think of to improve Amtrak. Like dome cars, cars like they used to use on the west coast, Parlour service, more sleepers
    So many new items he could try. Amtrak naysayers, you know who you are, you are NOT a true rail fan. To many negative comments. Think positive.

  5. I am no fan of Anderson, but a CEO is both a member and a creation of the Board of Directors. Directors are appointed by Presidents. I was a sort of fan of Obama, but his Amtrak BOD left a lot to be desired. Amtrak needs a good directorate who will work to aid the organization, and a total team management to deal with its major failures, work all sides of the politics and stick around so see improvements put into place and functioning. A real source of permanent dependable funding on a minimum 5 year plan would also help.

  6. Hey CHARLES, you don’t know me at all, yet based on your vitriolic response to my comment, you seem pretty good at pre-judging yourself! You might be surprised at how much I know, and how much checking I do before I hazard making a comment on here, given those that make most of them. I did some background on this guy and see nothing that makes me think he can or is willing to try to reverse the Amtrak death spiral.

  7. Our neighbors to the north probably snicker when complaints are made about “he’s not ‘Murican”, considering all the Americans who made their fame as Canadian railroaders.

    Perhaps Flynn could revive Amtrak mail and express service as Ed Ellis tried to do. That could help Amtrak’s bottom line.

    Flynn may have been Jim McClellan’s contemporary at CSX, but there was only one Jim McClellan just like there is only one Bill Flynn. Let’s keep an open mind.

  8. Question?? Why can’t the BOD and CEO ride trains as individuals? See what takes place-GET OUT ON THE RAILROAD! I’m talking about each doing it individually, not as a group.

  9. I am amused. Amtrak apparently needs a leader with “passenger train experience!” Where do we get that? From a cruise train/tour company? From a commuter agency? From overseas? I know readers will compain that “he’s not ‘Murican!” if you choose the last option; will complain that a commuter agency isn’t the same as a long-haul passenger operation; that a cruise/tour operator only caters to a well-heeled crowd. In that case, you choose someone with organizational skills that can spot talent and the larger issues. Running Atlas was a huge undertaking, operationally, in terms of labor, lease agreements, and in logistics. And, yes, Atlas DOES fly passenger charters. Let’s see how this works. Anderson wasn’t the disaster everyone with vested interests claimed he’d be. Question is: why did he leave?

  10. DENNIS and OTHERS – Really, so the guy has long experience in one of America’s most successful businesses – air cargo and passenger air charter – has railroad experience, is mature and seems to know a whole lot about a whole lot of things, and you have already judged him unsuitable for Amtrak. Really? Really? For the love of God stop prejudging and give the guy a chance. How would you like it if someone who never heard of you prejudged your own suitability for a job?

    America’s air transport has always been highlty successful and (more recently) now runs at a profit. Can anyone say the same about Amtrak? Really folks? Given what I’ve seen of the two industries, rail and air, if I were to prejudge it would be the flyboy. We all should be greatly he’s willing to take and impossible job at a modest salary.

  11. Great! Not only an airplane guy, but one that has no experience in hauling people and customer satisfaction (cardboard boxes don’t usually talk much)! I would say it can’t get worse than Delta Dick, but unfortunately it can…sigh…

  12. Hey there, Dennis. Vitriol is what Charles does best, including his entirely irrelevant and nasty comments about Obama’s library. Really? Do we hear the same about Georgie Bush the oil tycoon’s library? Nope.

  13. Just a thought, he held the same position in CSX as the late Him McClellan did at Norfolk Southern.

  14. I agree with Matthew. Isn’t there anyone internally that could be moved up? Or if by staying internally you end up with old habits.

  15. Going by titles, Stephan Gardner, Amtrak’s only Senior Executive Vice President, looked like to have the insider track (no pun intended) to take over from Anderson. There is some question about Gardner’s involvement if any with the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) prior to his coming to Amtrak. A common way to implement legislation is to hire a/the person who helped create it. The “reverse” would be for a person to draft legislation that would create a job that only he/she could best fill. Neither way is new to private industry nor government, but in private industry, only the stockholders are affected. In government, the taxpayers are affected.

  16. Railway Age reports that he has a bevy of railroader family members in the crafts at Conrail and Amtrak and his brother is a union leader.

    First thing I wondered when looking at his resume is if mail/express will get a revival.

    In my opinion, Amtrak’s number 1 unaddressed challenge is freight railroad timekeeping. My wish is that Flynn will figure that one out.

  17. Great, another airline guy to further diminish and render extinct the remainder of passenger rail in the US. Sorry, thats the best I can do after watching decades of two steps forward, four steps backwards…..

  18. I seriously doubt he will last 5 years, only a railroader would drop $5m in pay to stay in the RR. I can’t understand why Amtrak has no internal succession plan for CEO. Someone who works there, has the passion for public passenger services.

  19. It’s hard to believe it has only been two years and two months since Wick Moorman’s departure. I hope Flynn reinstates a “railroad organization” like Moorman did, and adopts GAAP. Amtrak spends a lot of time defending its accounting procedures, which only creates doubts about its financial condition and its honesty. Remember Penn Central.

  20. LAWRENCE – $475,000 is real cheap for a CEO of anything. As for US Presidents they’re not paid a whole lot when in office (though while in the White House live like all the kings and emperors in the world combined) but somehow end up quite wealthy in retirement. It’s those appearance fees, “book” “deals” (where both “book” and “deals” are in quotes) and all the other moneys that flow their way.

    It’s been a long time since our Second President worked a farm in Quincy Massachusetts to support himself, after leaving office. It’s also been a long time since the last President of any worth or value to the country returned to live in the same modest house in Independence, Missouri.

    As for our most recent former president if his supporters can come up with hundreds of millions of quahogs for the “library” in Chicago, they can also find a way to channel money for his and Michelle’s retirement.

  21. My memory of Richard Anderson is of an imperious, tone-deaf, out-of-touch elitist who never gave an interview other than testifying before Congress, famously said “I don’t talk to the Press,” and didn’t give a damn for railroads. He might just as well have been merchandising travel trailers. Corporate culture filters down from the top.

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