After a decade and a half at the helm, Edwin I. Colodny presided over his last annual meeting as chief executive officer of USAir Group Inc. yesterday at the Madison Hotel in Washington.
As part of a previously announced plan of succession, Mr. Colodny will be replaced next month as president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based USAir Group and as CEO of its airline subsidiary, USAir, by Seth E. Schofield, a 34-year veteran of the carrier.
Mr. Schofield, 51, was named president and chief operating officer of the airline last June.
Mr. Colodny, who has spent his entire career at USAir, will retain thechairman's job. He will relinquish his day-to-day management posts next month following his 65th birthday, "the age at which USAir officers customarily retire," the company announced yesterday after the meeting.
During his tenure as president, USAir has grown from $373 million to more than $6.5 billion in revenues.
However, Mr. Colodny is leaving the top spot after -- in his words -- "the most difficult year in our history."
USAir lost more than $450 million last year. Like other companies in the travel industry, it was hurt by a slowdown in domestic travel due to the recession, war jitters and high fuel prices.
Also, the company took a $152 million hit against fourth-quarter earnings as it restructured operations, laid off workers and retiredsome of its fleet.
In the first quarter of this year, the company finished $168.7 million in the red.
Despite the losses, Mr. Colodny expressed confidence that the company had taken the steps to enable it to return to profitability.
He told shareholders that the bankruptcies of fare-cutting carriers such as Eastern Airlines Inc. and Midway Airlines Inc., USAir's new fare structure, and its cost-cutting moves will enhance its future performance.
At the meeting, a shareholder proposal that voting be kept confidential was narrowly defeated.
The New York Police Pension Fund, argued that confidential voting would "ensure that voters are not subjected to actual or perceived coercive pressure."
USAir's directors had urged shareholders to vote against the resolution, saying it was not in the best interest of the beneficiaries and members of the many institutions that invest in the air carrier.
"When representative voting is involved, accountability is of paramount importance," the directors asserted.