Creating opportunity
4 Stories for Anyone Who’s Ever Flown (or Just Loves Business)
Free Enterprise Staff | March 17, 2015

The world of aviation has changed drastically over the past century, ascending from its humble roots to become an international industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Representatives from many of the major U.S. carriers are set to discuss the state of the sector today at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Aviation Summit. The annual event—now in its 14th year of existence—is slated to feature a number of speeches and panels that will address the state of air travel today, as well as where it’s moving in the future.

Looking toward the future, George Whitesides, the C.E.O. of Virgin Galactic, is among the day’s notable attendees. During a panel discussion about space, Whitesides will discuss the future of space in the global economy—a session that’s a must-see for anyone who’s ever fantasized about traveling beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

Given today’s event, we thought we’d highlight some of the aviation-related stories and interviews that have run on Free Enterprise over the past year. Have a look at four of our favorites here, and be sure to stay tuned: We’ll be interviewing some of the summit’s high-profile executives and publishing Q&As, videos, and multimedia articles over the coming weeks.

1. Our Candid #90SecondsWith Sir Richard Branson

One of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, Sir Richard Branson single-handedly built the Virgin Group empire, a global conglomerate made up of some 400 unique companies. At last year’s Aviation Summit, we got the chance to interview the British business luminary for our ongoing #90SecondsWith series.

During the interview, Branson talked about his latest venture, Virgin StartUp, and he also let us in on a little secret, specifically what he brings in his carry-on when he travels.

Want to hear what Branson has to say? You can check out our full #90SecondsWith interview with Branson here: “#90SecondsWith: Sir Richard Branson”

2. A Profile of the Industrial Conglomerate Rolls-Royce

You can’t fly a plane if it doesn’t have an engine–and that’s where Rolls-Royce comes into play. The Britain-based company is one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of jet engines, with its namesake products installed in thousands of planes the globe over.

Last year, we profiled Rolls-Royce’s decision to expand its international footprint in the U.S., where it opened a state-of-the-art manufacturing, research, and development campus in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Want to know what kind of impact Rolls-Royce has had on the surrounding community? (Hint: It was  good.) You can read our full story here: “Rolls-Royce Shows How Investing in the U.S. Is Good for Business”

3. Management advice from former Continental Airlines C.E.O. Gordon Bethune

Gordon Bethune is something of a legend in the business world.

Before he took over Continental Airlines, in 1994, the carrier ranked dead last in customer satisfaction and was hemorrhaging cash. Yet in only a year, Bethune was able help Continental turn a profit and surge to the top of the customer satisfaction rankings compiled by J.D. Power & Associates—one of the most remarkable turnarounds in American business history. Over the next decade, he continued to lead the airline to new highs, earning awards and accolades along the way.

How was Bethune able to accomplish what he did? In an interview with Free Enterprise, Bethune offered some of his tried and true management lessons—seven, to be exact.

You can check out Bethune’s business lessons here: “Management Advice From the CEO Who Saved Continental Airlines”

4. Our #90SecondsWith Robert Crandall Interview 

Like Gordon Bethune, Robert Crandall was widely respected as an innovative and approachable leader while at the helm of American Airlines, which he led during the ‘80s and ‘90s. During his tenure, Crandall was responsible for ushering in such innovations as frequent-flier miles, electronic reservations, and yield management.

At last year’s Aviation Summit, we were lucky enough to interview Crandall, who described his professional and leadership ethos and talked about the importance of encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit. He also explained how his wife was responsible for his best idea during his time at American Airlines.

Watch Crandall talk about his career and more here: “#90SecondsWith: Robert Crandall”