March 11, 2024

Amerijet Chief Commercial Officer Eric Wilson abruptly departs


Chief Commercial Officer Eric Wilson has left freighter operator Amerijet International Airlines amid shrinking cargo sales, adding to the turmoil that has engulfed the Miami-based airline for the past year.

Wilson resigned on Friday after three years “to pursue other opportunities,” Christine Richard, senior marketing director, confirmed in an email. But multiple sources familiar with Amerijet’s inner workings say Wilson was dismissed by new CEO Joe Mozzali, who is working hard to stabilize the company, when his contract expired.

Supporting the view that Wilson was pushed out is the fact that the company lost $33 million over 12 months ending with the third quarter of 2023, as reported last week by FreightWaves, and large contracts with the U.S. Postal Service and DHL. Publicly available financial data shows Amerijet revenues fell 10% during the year ending Sept. 30, but the ending of some large service contracts with two of its biggest customers since then has compounded top-line pressure. As chief commercial officer, Wilson was responsible for the sales department.

Wilson spoke with a reporter last week and gave no indication that he had tendered his resignation.

Furthermore, Wilson was hired by Tim Strauss, who abruptly left in October when his three-year contract was not renewed. Multiple sources close to the situation said Strauss did not leave voluntarily, as he and the company implied at the time. The board was unhappy about his management style and decisions to expand the fleet as the air cargo market underwent a rapid cooldown from record demand during the COVID crisis

Among the criticisms privately voiced about Strauss is that he hired several executives who had experience at passenger airlines but not running and marketing dedicated freighter operations. Wilson previously was managing director of cargo sales at Delta Air Lines.

Strauss, it should be noted, stepped into a dysfunctional situation in which his predecessor continued to meddle in management decisions from his role as executive chairman, leading Strauss to quit after one year on the job before the then-board persuaded him to stay on.

Some evaporation in business appears to be beyond Amerijet’s control. The Postal Service, for example, is actively working to shift as many parcels from air to ground transport as possible to save money and reduce carbon emissions.

Financial difficulties culminated in January with a rescue from a new investment group and the decision to return to lessors six Boeing 757-200 converted freighters that Strauss had acquired in the prior 18 months.

Since taking the helm, Mozzali has launched an extensive campaign to cut costs, including outsourcing next month the operations of a small road feeder terminal in Atlanta to a third party. The company has also temporarily parked some jets, deferred major maintenance on some aircraft, laid off a handful of workers and instituted a freeze on pilot hiring.

The Amerijet fleet is down to 14 cargo jets from a high of 22 in 2022. Eleven aircraft are under Amerijet’s control and three are owned by Maersk Air Cargo, which contracts with Amerijet for crews and other operational services.

Management’s position to employees and the public is that the restructuring put Amerijet in a solid financial position that will allow it to meet customer expectations.

Richard said Amerijet will conduct an internal and external search for Wilson’s replacement. 

Click here for more FreightWaves stories by Eric Kulisch.

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Amerijet lost $33M in 12 months, downsizes Atlanta operation

Amerijet feels financial pinch as cargo business deteriorates


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